• August 30, 2019

I get an email from the Irish Red Cross to say they are having a series of events next month to mark their 80th anniversary and also remark that this year is also the 70th anniversary of the (4th) Geneva Convention which is the International Convention covering humanitarian treatment in war;

Interestingly they are having a talk on ‘the Irish Geneva Convention’ a treaty dating from the 7th Century Cáin Adomnáin, or ‘Law of Innocents’, promulgated in Birr, Co. Offaly in 697AD

The talk is to be given by Dr. Jim Holohan who has just completed a significant academic work on the ancient treaty which will be published next year.

I went in search if elucidation:

“The Cáin Adomnáin (Law of Adomnán), also known as the Lex Innocentium (Law of Innocents), was promulgated amongst a gathering of Irish, Dál Riatan and Pictish notables at the Synod of Birr in 697. It is named after its initiator Adomnán of Iona, ninth Abbot of Iona after St. Columba. It is called the “Geneva Accords” of the ancient Irish, for its protection of women and non-combatants, extending the Law of Patrick, which protected monks, to civilians. The legal symposium at the Synod of Birr was prompted when Adomnáin had an Aisling dream vision wherein his mother excoriated him for not protecting the women and children of Ireland.” (Source Wiki)



So we have had a form of International humanitarian law for almost a millennium and a half, sad therefore that even today and with all the work such as the Geneva Convention(s) there are still so many breaches of international law. Just today reports emerge of the brutal treatment of civilians in Kashmir.

Image: Signing of the 4th Geneva Convention in 1949

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary
Celtic League (30/08/2019)

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