Truth and honesty must be at the heart of how we deal with the legacy of the past and in how politicians in Northern Ireland govern today, says Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP and MP for the Foyle constituency. He was speaking in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast and is the third political leader to be interviewed in the series, discussing how to make progress in Northern Ireland.
Victims have been badly treated, stresses Colum, and they need truth and respect.
But Colum also talks at length about the need to reform our education system. He points out that these reforms need to go beyond integrating our children at schools and replacing the system of academic selection, but also to fundamentally review the curriculum that is taught. He adds that Northern Ireland must become a more highly skilled society in order to strengthen and expand our economy.
Colum warns that our society is divided socially, beyond the religious separation, and government must do much more to tackle poverty, while also achieving reconciliation. The SDLP favours the use of citizens assemblies, with Colum arguing that the population is ahead of the politicians in their social attitudes.
The interview can be heard here.
The Holywell Trust Forward Together 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.
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.