A new series of conversations on the future

Holywell Trust’s third series of Forward Together podcasts is launched today. As with the previous series, the focus is on how to make progress in Northern Ireland and heal our divided society.

In these latest podcasts we consider some of the ideas that emerged from previous interviews – which were edited together into the book, ‘Lessons from the Troubles and the Unsettled Peace’. Unfortunately, recent events make these ideas even more relevant for urgent consideration.

Suggestions discussed further in the latest podcasts include how to reduce tension and improve relationships at interface areas; how to make our society more shared and integrated; how to tackle the role and influence of paramilitaries; and what role citizens’ assemblies can play in strengthening relationships across the community divide and in achieving agreed outcomes to our most difficult challenges.

Many of the conversations came back to some core themes, which may not be obvious in terms of dealing with the tensions in our society. One of those is the need to improve engagement at schools to keep pupils committed to learning, with the result that school leavers have the skills employers need and which can drive economic investment and wealth creation across our society. This, in turn, can assist in tackling the deprivation and social alienation that may be factors in recent unrest.

The first interview is with Simon Hoare MP, who is chair of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Select Committee and Conservative MP for North Dorset. Simon argues that the core challenge in Northern Ireland is finding ways to develop trust between the political parties and communities. He believes that to do that the main parties need to find some core policies and objectives that they can agree on and work back from that in terms of their approach to governing.

Simon is sceptical of the role of citizens’ assemblies, believing they undermine the role of elected and representative democracy, which he argues must have at its core citizen engagement.

Simon’s conversation can be listened to here.

The podcasts are funded by the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant Scheme. 


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. 


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