On December 1st 2023, Fairtrade representatives from all around the island of Ireland gathered at King John’s Castle in Limerick for our 2023 Supporter Gathering. Usually, these gatherings happen in Dublin but this year, we decided to change things up a bit. We are eternally grateful to Limerick Fairtrade for being some of our longest serving allies and staunchest supporters and the Limerick area constitutes a cluster of Fairtrade communities. Thus, we decided to have the Gathering in Limerick. We were very lucky to get the Educational Suite of King John’s Castle, a truly breathtaking venue.
The day featured a plethora of interesting talks – we had the Deputy Mayor of Limerick Dan McSweeney, an address from Peter Gaynor the Executive Director of Fairtrade Ireland as well as from Sophie Aujean from Fairtrade International exploring the rise of the political far right at EU level. In the realm of food, we heard from Lucy Scott, Marketing Manager at Tony’s Chocolonely who gave us a talk on their slavery-free chocolate as well as a long-awaited explanation as to why the pieces in Tony’s Chocolonely bars are unevenly shaped – turns out it’s to do with inequality in the cocoa trade! We also had a brief talk from Efe of Cheeky Vegan and then later had an open roundtable discussion featuring a rich conversation about the direction of Fairtrade. A range of fascinating ideas were brought to the fore such as stickers for houses and businesses to designate themselves a Fairtrade home, university open days and various partners to help make the Tony’s campaign fly such as churches and celebrity endorsements. Finally, it is worth mentioning that this Gathering was the official launch of the Tony’s Local Campaign whereby we encourage communities to lobby their local shops to stock Tony’s products. Further details and to order your packs available on our website.
The day was sandwiched around a delicious midday lunch from Master Chefs catering during which time many of us had time for a walk around the beautiful surrounding areas of Limerick such as Thomond Bridge. It’s always lovely to see all of the good folk of the Fairtrade network, get their input and reward their service with goodie bags. On this day, we had a diverse mix of college students, local politicians, Fairtrade Ambassadors and long-serving Fairtrade community members. The energy was powerful and the craic was mighty. The knowledge that you are a part of something bigger is inspiring – as is shown by our representatives from across the border in Derry, the talk from Fairtrade International’s Sophie Aujean and our work with producers from the Global South, the movement very much is a cross-border movement of solidarity.