“but actually the grassroots hasn’t been engaged in it..”

Peter Sheridan, the assistant chief constable noted previously, is also interviewed in agendaNI ahead of his taking on a new role as Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland. And he’s identifying one of the problems with a top-down “indigenous” deal.

“Co-operation Ireland has been very successful in a conflict situation for the last 30 years but the context has changed out there and the challenge will be to be as equally successful in the next 30 years of Co-operation Ireland in a different context,” he remarks.

“You’re in a peace-building context. People have this view that the peace is done and it’s all over. And to some extent that part of the conflict is over but it’s by no means stable yet. Yes, a lot of the engagement has been at the top political level but actually the grassroots hasn’t been engaged in it.”

Pointing to a nearby table, he comments that while Stormont looks “pretty steady on the surface”, the political situation, like the table’s legs, is “very shaky at times” as shown when disputes have occurred over the devolution of policing and justice and the murder of Paul Quinn.

“All of that political agreement needs stabilised and needs underpinned at the grassroots level, which is what peacebuilding’s about. In some ways, the peace-making is a pragmatic enterprise whereas peace-building is much more vision-oriented. It’s not about single events, it’s about process and a process that will take years. And so the context becomes more difficult.”

That vision has already been articulated in poet Michael Longley’s process of civilisation. And, as former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern pointed out, “people will just have to be tolerant of that..” including the deputy First Minister..

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  • The Raven

    An excellent piece.

    Cooperation Ireland was (as Cooperation North) one of the foremost proponents of cross-border cooperation. It has struggled in the past few years to find a role, but I think under new stewardship and diversification into “north/north” work as well as its core business, some of that expertise will be well used.

    I wish him luck.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Ooh, he’s very deep isn’t he? That table metaphor. Like, wow!

    He deserves a few years on the Gravy Train if he’s going to enlighten us with such pearls of wisdom.

  • Pete Baker

    So bJ, you have a problem with his apparently situational choice of metaphor.

    And on the substance of the post?


    It might still be a difficult role unless the politicians involved also acknowledge the need for that process of civilisation.

  • Pete Baker
  • The Raven

    Pete, I have no doubt there is role for that particular organisation. Though you’d have to admit, it will take quite a change from (what was always incorrectly viewed as) the “softer” side of p+r work that is pure cross-border.

    Jilly Boe Unremarkable. I wonder, could you clarify what you mean by “gravy train” when it comes to this organisation? Perhaps you are au fait with Cooperation Ireland? Could you tell us a bit more about it, or indeed which aspect of what they do is worthy of “gravy train”?

  • Pete Baker

    No doubt, Raven.

    The important point being the overall adoption of that process of civilisation, not any particular organisation’s role in it.

  • The Raven

    Pete….do you mean, like, knives and forks? Indoor toilets and such like…??

    Bit ambitious, aren’t you…?? 😉

  • Pete Baker

    For what it’s worth, Raven..

    I’m sceptical not cynical..

  • cynic

    “such pearls of wisdom”

    Billie Joe

    I agree but for readers of the Belfast newspapers perhaps he can tone it down a bit so they understand the significance

  • cynic


    I agree on the civilization comment and will go further.

    One mark of civilization is being able to talk to your neighbour (be it across a border or peace wall) rather than stand on your side and shout ‘No’.

    A second is how you behave in your own home and life and here some of our local politicians (and perhaps the rest of us) need to be politically house trained as well as civilized, judging by recent political developments and the posturing we have seen.

    Positions ranging from ‘I will take my ball home if I am not allowed to score a goal’ through ‘Yah, Yah your gay’ to politically pissing on the border and shouting ‘Stay out of Ulster’s affairs’ to well-intentioned neighbours are more suited to the playground than a mature society, never mind a civilized one.

    Still I remain hopeful that we can move them on from the current Eastenders-type script to something more akin to Shakespeare – still simmering with political intrigue and sub-plots but done in a much more sophisticated way (and with more sex).

    And that from a Cynic!

  • It’s a pity that Co-operation North didn’t move with the times and become Co-operation UK and Ireland. This would have reflected the UK and Irish dimensions of the 1998 Agreement.