1. A compelling and deeply moving documentary that reveals the incredible struggles that parents must undertake to obtain public services, especially education, for their children with severe learning and intellectual disabilities. Winner of Ireland's National Television Broadcasting Award in 1996 this film by Anne Daly and Ronan Tynan tells a story that tragically resonates again today because in the era of austerity and budget cutbacks parents are being forced to struggle harder than ever to obtain justice for their children.

    “So good were the interviews by Anne Daly and so eloquent the 
    interviewees that this Esperanza production made the viewers as angry 
    as the parents.”
    --John Boland, The Irish Independent

    “...is a moving study of the struggles faced by these parents to get 
    even the most basic help.”
    --The Sunday Tribune

    “...its great strength was the honesty of the parents.”
    The Irish Times

    The late Ger South featured prominently in this documentary and was a legendary campaigner on behalf of children with severe learning disabilities. Ger was a driving force within the Limerick Parents & 
    Friends - a parents support group - with whom we made this film. Indeed, his huge personal commitment and that of the other parents involved, helped to show in a powerful and compelling way how they 
    must become campaigners on behalf of their children to get the services they need.  A role as activist and campaigner, it must be emphasized,  that is all the harder to sustain given that they have 
    to provide round the clock care for their children with special needs.

    This award winning documentary was also used extensively to promote better public understanding of the considerable challenges and real hardship experienced by parents and families when they cannot access appropriate services for their children with severe learning disabilities. Campaigning to secure the right services for their children was part of life for almost every parent we met making this film. While there have been significant improvements in services since this documentary was made thanks to the extraordinary commitment of 
    the late Ger South and others, the impact of the current regime of cutbacks is once again placing a very severe burden on many parents as they fight to secure the right help for their children.

    WHEN HAPPINESS IS A PLACE FOR YOUR CHILD won Ireland’s National Television Broadcasting Award in 1996

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  2. If you wondered why 1,129 mostly women workers were killed when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Bangladesh on April, 24 this year it is no secret. The biggest industrial disaster in the history of the worldwide garment industry was an accident waiting to happen. What shocked us is that conditions we found in making this documentary ten years ago still existed and in spite of 112 workers being killed at the Tasreen factory in the capital Dhaka on the 24th of November last year no alarm bells were sounded. Why?

    “If you watch this documentary....everytime you finger the seam of a 
    jacket or the rivets on a pair of jeans while shopping, it will be 
    impossible to feel anything other than sweat of the people who.....put  it together.”
    --The Irish Times

    RACE TO THE BOTTOM was inspired by a single paragraph in a newspaper that reported that a fire in a garment factory had taken the lives of  51 mostly women and young girls in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. They were unable to escape because the doors were locked and windows  barred - a very common practice in the industry. This film is dedicated to their memory and sought to answer the profound questions raised by this wholly preventable tragedy that only warranted a few lines in a major newspaper in the so called developed world.

    Filmed in dramatically diverse locations as the Walls of Derry in Northern Ireland and the sweat shops and export factories in Bangladesh the documentary sought to explore the very roots of the race to the bottom: why in the international garment industry constantly moving production to the country with lowest wages, and which invariably means the location with the worst if not the most dangerous working conditions?

    “We were cheap labour once’ one Derry woman and former garment worker declares in the film touching on the most obvious obsession of a global industry that seems to have an insatiable appetite for finding places with lower and lower wages.

    Made ten years ago this documentary continues to prove compelling and indeed very tragic because so little has changed in the industry as the recent Tazreen factory fire in Dhaka, which took 112 lives in November, 2012 and an appalling 1,129 mostly women workers’ lives in April, 2013 when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in another wholly 
    preventable disaster.

    Filmed through the eyes of mostly women workers in Northern Ireland and Bangladesh this documentary offers rare insights into the migration of the garment industry as the race to the bottom shows no sign of slowing down.

    Watching this film, made ten years ago, in the shadow of the Tazreen  fire and the Rana Plaza collapse which cost a staggering and  unbelievable 1,241 mostly women workers lives one cannot but feel a  sense of outrage that if the reforms advocated by those who were  interviewed the hundreds who have perished in fires and other factory  disasters in the intervening years would still be alive.

    The women featured from Bangladesh were active in seeking to have  trade unions recognized and workers rights respected.  The courage of women like Nasma Aktor, a trade union leader, still offers hope for  the future. The late Neil Kearney, the then Secretary General of the  International Garment and Textile Workers Union, a very frequent  visitor to Bangladesh and a tireless advocate for workers seeking to  organise trade unions in country was quite unequivocal about the only  way real change was possible - the women in the factories had to be  allowed to organise their own unions to secure their rights.  Would  the Tazreen fire or the Rana Plaza collapse been allowed to happen if  workers in the industry were allowed to protect themselves through the  own trade unions?

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  3. Palestinian refugees were brutally murdered by ISIS when they recently overwhelmed Yarmouk camp, a de facto suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, even beheading those in public who would not join them. Acts of depravity made all the worse as the area was already reduced to rubble by indiscriminate and relentless barrel bombing by the Assad regime as they maintain a very cruel longterm siege. Meanwhile, the world seems to have forgotten Yarmouk, but the unimaginable inhuman conditions faced by her people were brought forcefully home to us at a very moving demonstration in London recently organised by family members and friends of those with loved ones still there.

    When Netanyahu's Israel was slaughtering Palestinians in Gaza we attended protests, tweeted, blogged and did what we could to express our outrage. However, deeply upset by the lack of public and popular popular outrage we made this very short video documentary featuring Sara al-Khateeb and Emily Churchill, two witnesses for their families and friends still caught in the crossfire in Yarmouk, after attending that very moving demonstration they organised in London, in the shadow of the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

    Ronan L Tynan

    Twitter: @RonanLTynan

    Url: esperanza.ie

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