No conference or event could ever hope to assess and examine the full range of threads that pulled together in April 1998 with the negotiating of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the referendum result the following month.
- The three universities each marked the political deal and its outworking in distinct ways: Open University, Queen’s University, Ulster University.
- The Northern Ireland Assembly held an event (YouTube) that heard reflections and recollections from participants in the negotiations.
- The Linen Hall Library has been running an illuminating series of Origins & Legacies discussions (the first three are available on their YouTube channel).
- The Lyric Theatre allowed packed audiences to look through a dramatic lens at how animosities can be overcome and consensus can occur in their sold out run of Owen McCafferty’s play Agreement.
Much of the focus has been on what happened in the political arena.
- The Corrymeela Community organised a weekend of events that began to look beyond the political and picked over community and faith initiatives in the 25 years since the agreement.
And Northumbria University’s Connal Parr (aided by Dr Stephen Hopkins) more fully shone a light on work by trade unions, community groups, artists and faith-based organisations in the road towards peace in a day-long conference – Paving the Path to Peace: Civil Society and the Northern Ireland Peace Process – held in The MAC on Wednesday 26 April. The conference was supported by the Irish Government’s Reconciliation Fund and was dedicated to the memory of May Blood.
The four panels were recorded and are now available to watch back.
Panel 1: Will I Be Heard? Trauma, Healing, Stories – chaired by Professor Tony Gallagher (Queen’s University), with contributions from Professor Marrianne Elliott (emeritus professor, University of Liverpool), Alan McBride (WAVE Trauma Centre) and Damian Gorman (playwright).
Panel 2: Social Movements & Pressure for Change – chaired by Alyson Kilpatrick (chief commissioner, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission), with contributions from Avila Kilmurray (Social Change Initiative), Bronagh Hinds (senior associate, DemocraShe), Jackie Redpath (Greater Shankill Partnership) and Tom Gillen (former deputy assistant general secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions).
Panel 3: Working in Communities – chaired by Diane Greer (community facilitator), with contributions from Fr Martin Magill (St John’s Parish), Jim McCusker (former NIPSA General Secretary) and Eileen Weir (Shankill Women’s Centre).
Panel 4: Reconciliation: Navigating the Path to Peace – chaired by William Crawley (broadcaster and journalist), with contributions from Dr Emily Stanton (Corrymeela Community and independent researcher), Pat Hynes (Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation), Mary Montague (Mediators Beyond Borders) and Rev Lesley Carroll (Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland).
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. He delivers social media training/coaching; produces podcasts and radio programmes; is a FactCheckNI director; a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland; and a member of the Corrymeela Community.