To mark 21 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, an important new initiative begins on Good Friday, 19th April, 2019. A series of podcasts will be broadcast twice a week, seeking answers to questions about the future of Northern Ireland and the border counties.
The objective is to promote a wider, more inclusive and engaged conversation about how we make progress, further solidify peace and create a genuinely shared and integrated society. We want that discussion to be mutually respectful, to be forward focused and positive.
It has to consider the real challenges our society faces in the coming years and be practical and honest in how to address these.
This initiative is the result of a partnership between the Holywell Trust peace and reconciliation charity based in Derry/Londonderry, the funders, the Community Relations Council, and Slugger O’Toole.
The first podcast will be released this Good Friday (19th April) with an interview with Bishop Ken Good, the Church of Ireland bishop for Derry and Raphoe (a cross border diocese). On Easter Monday, the second interview will be released with former Victims Commissioner and former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Mike Nesbitt MLA.
Future podcasts will include interviews with well-known community sector figures Linda Ervine, Alan McBride, Avila Kilmurray, Peter Sheridan and Conal McFeely, as well as MLAs Claire Sugden, Claire Bailey, Simon Hamilton and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. Republic of Ireland politicians Fergus O’Dowd TD and Senators Mark Daly and Frances Black will feature in other future podcasts.
The podcasts are hosted by Gerard Deane, director of the Holywell Trust, with interviews conducted by journalist Paul Gosling. The format is influenced by the success of the Holywell Trust Brexit podcasts.
The interviews all focus on four questions:
- how do we strengthen civic society in Northern Ireland;
- how do we create a more shared and integrated society;
- how should we deal with the past, while promoting reconciliation;
- how do we have the ‘constitutional conversation’ in ways that are positive, respectful and not damaging or threatening.
Under the partnership arrangement, the podcasts will be available here on Slugger O’Toole, as well as the Holywell Trust website. Sections of the podcasts and interviews may be available to other outlets by arrangement.
A series of articles based on the interviews will also be published in both places.
This process is the start of a wider conversation. Holywell Trust has plans to build on this work, to increase the civic voice on these issues and to positively influence these challenging but important issues. We are convinced that if we are to collectively move forward in a spirit of co-operation we need to deepen the discussion on these essential matters.
The Forward Together Podcast is funded through the Community Relations Council for Northern Ireland’s Media Grant Scheme. Holywell Trust receives core support from Community Relations Council for Northern Ireland and Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Paul Gosling is editor of ‘Lessons from the Troubles and an Unsettled Peace’, author of ‘A New Ireland’ and ‘The Fall of the Ethical Bank’ and co-author of ‘Abuse of Trust’, the story of a child abuse scandal in Leicestershire. He is engaged by the Holywell Trust charity on peace and reconciliation projects and is Parliamentary Assistant to Sinead McLaughlin MLA, the SDLP’s economy spokesperson.