For his report to the 50th annual general meeting of the Celtic League the Director of Information (DOI) provided a brief historical analysis of information projection by the League (to be presented by the General Secretary).
Bernard Moffatt paid tribute to the work of Alan Heusaff over the first two decades of the League. He also recorded the breakthrough which occurred when the internet became available and the early days of `Celtic News’ which was set up both him and Mark Kermode (this early news archive has recently been restored on the Celtic League Internet site).
The DOI refers to the periodic publication of branch newsletters which complemented Carn but says that invariably these were short-lived.
The section of the report on the past year outlines the diversity of topics which have been covered in press releases and information published on the CL Yahoo News Group. With between 20-25 subjects covered each month the DOI reported there was still scope for more branch participation and urged more involvement by the branch secretary’s in supplying material going forward.
The DOI report is set out in full below:
“REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION TO THE 2011 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE CELTIC LEAGUE
As this is the Fiftieth anniversary of the Celtic League I thought it would be useful to review the history of news dissemination by the League since its inception.
Initially the main vehicle for news spread was the Celtic Annual which was published periodically in the early years of the League. In addition (given that the Celtic League was a new organisation) there was media interest in the various Celtic countries (particularly around the time of the AGM).
In 1973 a decision was taken to launch Carn, a quarterly journal, which was to be the main vehicle for conveying Celtic information for almost quarter of a century (indeed until the advent of the internet age). Carn immediately established itself as the pre-eminent source for the delivery of news about both the Celtic League and the Celtic scene generally.
In addition to Carn the General Secretary (there was no AGS or DOI) in the early years would circulate information about the League and particularly about decisions taken at the AGM.
It fell to Alan Heusaff who was GS from 1961 – 1984 to carry out this task. However Alan’s ability to undertake this was severely compromised by his `propensity’ to engage in voluminous correspondence (sometimes running to 7-10 pages) with branch Secs (much of this correspondence undertaken in the relevant Celtic Language.
Fortunately for the League Alan’s job as a meteorologist at Dublin Airport (often on the night shift) allowed lots of time for correspondence. However, anyone (like me) who was on the receiving end of his correspondence will appreciate that he took the role extremely seriously!
In addition to Carn branches also periodically set up their own communication news-sheets. These were generally short-lived. The two exceptions were the Mannin branch Celtic League and AMA News which was mainly a vehicle to coordinate the Manx branch of the Celtic League and Anti Militarist Alliance campaign against military bases and usage in the Isle of Man which was produced for several years from 1977. In addition for several years the American branch produced ‘Six Nations One Soul’.
The CL & AMA campaign directly led to the decision to expand our anti-military strategy across the Celtic countries and this led to the development of a very high media profile for the League in these matters from about 1982 – 1998.
A copious archive of media coverage from this period was compiled and is archived at the Manx Museum Library. Virtually every continent is represented with cuttings from newspapers/periodicals in the Celtic countries, England, Europe, USA and the Far East.
In tandem with these developments the role of AGS (which I held for several years) was introduced. Eventually this became combined with a PRO function (now separated as DOI).
In concluding on the historical background I think it should be recorded that despite a high media profile this did not in any way increase markedly the membership of the League and whilst generally positive the media coverage (particularly of the UK based press) was self-serving.
In the past few years we have developed our own Internet news service to complement CARN, this originally was part of our first Internet web site. I am pleased to say this continues to enjoy success. Subscribers to the group now number just under 700 and many of these recycle our material on their own sites (the best example is ABP) and this further enhances the spread of `Celtic News’.
Originally Celtic News was posted on the old CL internet web site (the archive of which incidentally which had been lost is now recovered). However as something of an internet `luddite’ this involved me mailing material to Mark Kermode (then AGS) who posted it up. Eventually Mark suggested we set up a newsgroup on Yahoo and this has proved to be very successful and also is easily maintained by myself as DOI.
In addition to Carn, our web presence, CL News and sporadic branch-based publications we have also on occasion produced specialised reports (subjects covered included Human Rights, Environmental issues, the Commonwealth and most recently the Police).
THE PAST YEAR.
Following on from the 2011 AGM we produced a variety of news releases relaying all the resolutions adopted. We also continued the practice of continuing to progress resolutions adopted in previous years.
A wide range of news releases and general news items were posted and these can be found on the newsgroup at:
The subjects covered are too numerous to detail but include:
Cultural (including support for the languages)
The preschool movement
Broadcasting (particularly the maintenance and expansion of Celtic language services)
Human rights (including scrutiny of UN reports relating to the Celtic countries)
Communities support (for example highlighting the ongoing Mayo Shell to Sea dispute and support for the PMS savers who lost money when the Northern Ireland based society collapsed)
Monitoring of Police Services
Nuclear (including monitoring of the environment and opposition to new-build nuclear)
Marine matters (including campaign to maintain the Emergency Towing Vessel service and opposition to Coastguard closures)
Anti-Racism (including support for the rights of the Traveller community)
Anti-Military (including publicity about environmental issues and opposition to bases and low-flying)
British Army (its murderous record in Ireland and Internationally)
Opposition to Irish recruitment into the British Army
EU (correspondence with EU agencies and the CPT)
A range of International related matters (including the Middle East and links to arms trading via the IOM etc)
Celtic Treasures (including publicity for the return of the Wallace letter, Chronicles, Chessmen and Cape of Mold)
Social Issues (Fuel poverty, Rights of children, Social exclusion, Minimum wage etc)
General Celtic related issues (i.e. reporting on Celtic Congress and the various issues of Carn)
Reform of the Judiciary in Ireland and Mann
Scrutiny of the News Group will give a broader perspective to the items listed above and the fact that the news group subscriber numbers continue to grow indicates that the material is relevant and well received.
I have indicated a willingness to carry on as DOI.
I cannot attend the AGM regrettably because of personal difficulties and very much regret having to miss this milestone for the League.
I trust the meeting will make the correct decisions to take us forward in a positive manner. In 2011-12 I do hope that branches will furnish more material for Celtic News as I wish us not only to maintain the current output of news but enhance its diversity.
For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666
The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.
ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.