Lessons from the Troubles and the Unsettled Peace – invitation to an online book launch

A new book brings together ideas from political and civic leaders from across Northern Ireland and the island as a whole. ‘Lessons from the Troubles and the Unsettled Peace’ contains views included in blogs published over a long period on Slugger O’Toole, which were also podcasts from the Holywell Trust, a peace and reconciliation charity in Derry/Londonderry.

Holywell Trust is hosting an online book launch on Tuesday, 27th October. The interviewees had considered, in particular, how we strengthen civic society; how communities can live together in a shared society; how we deal with the past, while improving reconciliation; and how we can discuss the constitutional future in ways that are positive, respectful and not damaging or threatening. 

Interviewees include justice minister Naomi Long, former deputy first minister Mark Durkan, Green Party leader Clare Bailey and former finance ministers Simon Hamilton and Mairtin O’Muilleoir. Civic leaders who speak include Denis Bradley, former Archbishop Robin Eames, Peter Osborne, Linda Ervine and Alan McBride. Writers Freya McClements, Jo Egan and Julieann Campbell provide their insights into how telling stories of the past can assist with healing and also in dealing with trauma. 

Editor Paul Gosling said: “I hope this will prove an important body of work. We live in Northern Ireland today as if the Troubles are behind us, pretending we live in a society that has settled its divisions. Yet in many ways what we have is peace that is unsettled. Some of the causes of the Troubles remain outstanding – inequality, poverty, divisions that exist because people have very different lives as a result of where they live or the circumstances they were borne into. Interviewees told us that peace and reconciliation is a long process – a 50 year journey that we are not even half way into. It is time to take stock and have a serious discussion on how we make progress to embed the peace more fully into our society. This book is an attempt to do this.” 

Holywell Trust chief executive Gerard Deane added: “The Holywell Trust is a long established peace and reconciliation charity that does not shrink from the tough questions. I believe that the Forward Together interviews and this book which compiles the views of people who have been at the heart of our society for many years can be an important contribution in helping us to move forward, together.” 


Quotes from the book: 

“Nobody wants to hear that it’s a 50 year job, but that’s maybe at the low end of the scale.”   Simon Hamilton, former Stormont finance, health and economy minister. 

“It almost feels like we’re taking the peace process for granted.”  Claire Sugden MLA, former Stormont justice minister. 

“There are so many people who have so much to hide on all sides.”  Senator Mark Daly, the Oireachtas. 

 “We have failed to acknowledge the suffering and loss adequately of the people who have lost and who have suffered.”  Councillor John Kyle, former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, 

 “The trauma can be carried down the generations.” Senator Frances Black, the Oireachtas. 

 “There was more to the Troubles than just Catholic and Protestant.”  Julieann Campbell, author. 

“We have to change.”  Maureen Hetherington, the Junction. community relations charity. 


The ‘Lessons from the Troubles and the Unsettled Peace – Ideas from the Forward Together podcasts’ book, edited by @PaulGosling1, will be launched at a free online event on Tuesday 27th October at 2.00pm. Places can be booked in advance via EventBrite.com – https://forwardtogetherideasbook.eventbrite.co.uk. 


The Forward Together podcasts were sponsored by the Community Relations Council and the book has been financed with a grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland.

Disclaimer: This project has received support from the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council which aims to promote a pluralist society characterised by equity, respect for diversity, and recognition of interdependence. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Community Relations Council.