Are we lacking in our individual ambition now we have ‘peace’?

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA in London (one of the very few organisations of which I am member) is speaking in Belfast later today as the Peace III funding comes to a close. Having reviewed some of the patterns of funding, it is part of Matthew’s thinking that if there is a deficit in those patterns, it has been in the area of innovation (something many would argue is not generally served particularly well by the long lead times required for gaining public sector funding).

In yesterday’s blog post, he gives us a hint of his pitch:

I will suggest that most of the thinking, spending and action on overcoming segregation and hostility between the communities in Northern Ireland relates to initiatives which are either egalitarian or hierarchical in mode. What can we do to engage the power of individualism?


Strong visionary leadership, good urban policy and the hard graft of community work are all important to start to overcome the divisions in Northern Ireland, but so are role models whose pursuit of individual ambition leaves no space for politics or tribalism.

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  • I have read the article. It has left me scratching my head a bit.

    All right, so let us assume that Rory McIlroy is a public that both communities can take ownership of. What then?

    Individual sporting success or any other kind of individual success does nothing more than make people cheer for a few glorious hours.

  • So when and where is he speaking?

  • Rory Carr

    Well if I had some influence over a body that was empowered to award grants to those engaged in artistic activity I could always encourage individualism by exerting that influence to ensure that an award was made to the delightful Mlle Fifi and/or the equally charming Mlle Trixibelle who, quite apart from their community work in applying their masseuse skills for the benefit of “discerning elderly gentlemen”, are pretty adept at flower-arranging and can always knock up a convincing little boquet (for only £10 extra) to bring home to one’s missus when one has tarried overlong (if you get my drift).

    I am sure that they would be pretty grateful and would demonstrate that gratitude on my next visit and, after all, flower arranging is one art form so far seriously under-acknowledged by those in a position to make these grants..

  • Jimmy

    We Would need to have peace first before any analysis of personal ambition.
    Living in a fairly peaceful society where the protagonists have agreed to stop killing each other is not my idea of Peace and if last nights shenanigans are to go by.

    People here are tribal, Individuals are far and few between, we can all respect them either in Ballymurphy or Rathcoole but allegiance is always to the Tribe.
    Also our sporting stars like Higgins, Best, and Now Rory(Mary Peters excluded) will afford to live away in plush suburban surroundings either in North Down or the English shires, able to afford thier way out, While the rest of Tribal Northern Ireland will be told how to use them as an example of Normality.

  • pippakin

    It was visible in the threads about Rory, both sides wanted to ‘claim’ him and both sides were prepared to ‘fight’ for the right to do so.

    In order to be an individual, a success and to maintain the support of all sides a person would need to be walking a tight rope twenty four seven. Its a big ask and I’m not sure anyone is up to that, or would want to be. Its best if people do what they can because they can. if that helps to bring the sides together then that is an added bonus to their success.

  • RichyA

    That’s an interesting thesis, although im unconvined that the ulster populace lack personal ambition, given the rampant greed we witnessed with regard to housebuilding during the Celtic Tiger years.