“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..

Living History 1968-74

A unique, once-in-a-lifetime 10-week course at Stranmillis University College Belfast featuring live, in-depth interviews with leading figures from this tumultuous era in Northern Ireland’s cultural and political history.

Live interviews with: Bernadette McAliskey, Austin Currie, Brid Rogers, Baroness Blood, Dennis Bradley, Baroness Paisley, Lord Kilclooney, Tim McGarry, Danny Morrison, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and others…

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