The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan by Allan LEONARD 3 October 2019 Sheelagh Murnaghan was the only Liberal Party MP (1961-69) in the Northern Ireland Parliament, representing the constituency of Queen’s University Belfast, which was the venue for a launch event of a new biography about her remarkable life. There were many Murnaghan family members in the audience of a few dozen attending. The book, Sheelagh Murnaghan, was commissioned by the Albert McElroy Memorial Fund, which was established to commemorate the …

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The role of media in conflict: A Féile discussion

The role of media in conflict: A Féile discussion by Allan LEONARD 8 August 2019 Hosted by Féile an Phobail, the campaign group Time for Truth organised an event to examine the role of the media in conflict and to listen to the account of those journalists in the front line who helped shape and influence the narrative. The panellists were Amanda Ferguson (journalist), Sean Murray (film director), Trevor Birney (film producer), and Barry McCaffery (journalist). After welcoming those attending …

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Shared housing and integrated education: Building good community relations

Shared housing and integrated education: Building good community relations by Allan LEONARD 7 August 2019 A panel discussion on how shared housing projects and the integrated education movement are contributing towards good community relations was held at St Mary’s College, Belfast, as part of the Feile Festival. The panellists were Deborah Howe (Equality Commission), Christine Davis (Housing Executive), Grainne Mullin (Radius Housing), and Jill Caskey (Integrated Education Fund). The event was chaired by Gerry McConville. After a welcome by Jessica …

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For Northern Ireland: Parity of esteem and reconciliation

For Northern Ireland: Parity of esteem and reconciliation by Allan LEONARD 1 August 2019 As part of the 31st annual Féile festival, Jim Gibney (a member of the Féile Debates and Discussions Committee) welcomed the audience of a couple dozen attendees of a panel discussion on what parity of esteem, reconciliation, and mutual respect means from those who are pro-Union. The panellists were Professor Peter Shirlow (Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool), Dr James Wilson (Initiative for Civic Space), …

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Is ethical journalism possible in a contested place?

Is ethical journalism possible in a contested place? by Allan LEONARD 27 May 2019 At a public lecture event hosted by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, at Queen’s University, Professor Steven Youngblood (Director, Center for Global Peace Journalism, Park University, Missouri) discussed the ethics of journalism in a contested place like Northern Ireland. Youngblood also spoke at Ulster University and held separate workshop sessions, all supported by the US Embassy. Youngblood asked the …

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“Understanding irrationality to save the human race”: Lord John ALDERDICE

“Understanding irrationality to save the human race”: Lord John ALDERDICE by Allan LEONARD 15 May 2019 The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast hosted a spring conference in honour of the 10th anniversary of the awarding of an honorary degree to President Daisaku Ikeda (President, Soka Gakkai International (SGI)). The evening before the day conference was marked by the unveiling of a commemorative peace bench in the university’s quadrangle garden, as …

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Doing our part: Dealing with bonfires

Greater Shankill Alternatives, which is part of a co-ordinating initiative on restorative justice across Northern Ireland, hosted a workshop session that explored various aspects of the tradition of bonfires and the organisation’s approaches of engagement with groups who construct these structures for annual celebrations. The event was supported by Belfast City Council and its DiverseCity good relations programme.

Media guidelines potential remedy for damaging past reportage

Media guidelines potential remedy for damaging past reportage by Allan LEONARD 5 March 2019 The project team of “Victims and Dealing with the Past” at Queen’s University Belfast hosted a launch event of two complementary media guideline publications: one for victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict on how to best engage with the media, and another for journalists, editors, and educators on how to best engage with victims and survivors and report on legacy issues. As Dr Cheryl …

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Stephen NOLAN: Enhancing democratic debate in the era of fake news?

Stephen NOLAN: Enhancing democratic debate in the era of fake news? by Allan LEONARD 26 February 2019 As part of their engagement programme, Queen’s University Belfast hosted a lecture by radio and television personality, Stephen Nolan, who was introduced by Ryan Feeney. Much of Nolan’s lecture was an autobiography of how he has developed his career in journalism and working for the BBC. His views on the topics in the lecture title — “Enhancing the Democratic Debate in the Era …

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Education: We all have a role to play

Education: We all have a role to play by Allan LEONARD 7 February 2019 The Integrated Education Fund hosted a day conference on some aspects of education in Northern Ireland, with a discussion on what role individuals, local communities, and organisations can play in realising a better vision. Contributors included: Baroness May Blood (Integrated Education Fund (IEF)), Dirk Schubotz (Queen’s University Belfast), Mairead McCafferty (Northern Ireland Commission for Children and Youth (NICCY)), Eileen Chan-Hu (CRAIC NI), Maire Thompson (Hazlewood Integrated …

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Country before Party? A UUP book launch discussion

Image source: (c) Allan LEONARD @MrUlster

At the launch event for “The Ulster Unionist Party: Country before Party?” there was a roundtable discussion former-leader Mike Nesbitt, press officer Lauren Kerr and Alex Kane (its former director of communications). They discussed the party‘s performance, policies and appeal as well as its future role in Northern Ireland politics. Read about what was said and watch back the conversation.

The end of Catholic Ireland? @ESRCFestivalNI

The end of Catholic Ireland?  by Allan LEONARD 6 November 2018 In what Alan Meban described the event as a symposium (“but don’t say it was in a bar” [The Dark Horse Inn]), Dr Gladys Ganiel, a sociologist of religion from Queen’s University Belfast, laid out quantitative and qualitative findings about the apparent secularisation process in Ireland. This was discussed by fellow panellists Pádraig Ó Tuama (poet, theologian and leader of Corrymeela) and Professor Margaret O’Callaghan (historian, Queen’s University Belfast). …

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Earning trust “story by story”

Earning trust “story by story”: Can we believe the media? The role of journalism in the digital age by Allan LEONARD 4 October 2018 Ulster University — along with the UK press regulatory body, Impress, and the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA) — jointly hosted a symposium event at its Belfast campus: “Can we believe the media? The role of journalism in the digital age”. Keynote speakers were Jonathan Heawood (Chief Executive Officer, Impress) and Peter Feeney (Press …

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Bear witness for peace #PeaceDay #GRWeek18

Bear witness for peace #PeaceDay #GRWeek18 by Allan LEONARD 21 September 2018 In support for International Peace Day and in conjunction with Good Relations Week and Culture Night Belfast, Belfast City Council hosted an event that featured a keynote speech by Rev. Trevor Williams, addresses by Councillor Tim Attwood, Susan Picken, Jennifer Skillen, and Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey, and a music performance by Ciaran Lavery. Councillor Attwood, who is vice chair of the council’s Shared City Partnership, welcomed all. He …

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Another fine edition of our human books: Living Library #GRWeek18

As part of Good Relations Week 2018, Belfast City Council hosted its seventh annual Living Library event, where public visitors come in to borrow a “human book” — a person who sits across from you in a one-to-one storytelling session. The event organiser, Leish Dolan (Good Relations Officer, Belfast City Council), told us that this series began after coming across The Human Library organisation, by chance. With colleague Anne Deighan, they used their existing contacts and established the first Living Library in …

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Sustaining hope for peace: Global Conflict 2018 #GFA20

Sustaining hope for peace: Global Conflict 2018 #GFA20 by Allan LEONARD 23 August 2018 In partnership with the University of Chicago and its Pearson Institute, Queen’s University Belfast hosted a two-day conference, “Global Conflict: The Human Impact”. This report recounts the first day’s events, which focussed on sharing learning from the peace processes in Northern Ireland and Colombia. Professor Ian Greer, recently installed Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s, welcomed delegates with some explanatory remarks about the partnership between the two universities. This …

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Developing respect in our politics: Leaders’ debate @FeileBelfast

Developing respect in our politics: Leaders’ debate @FeileBelfast
by Allan LEONARD
8 August 2018

The high level of respect displayed by the audience and speakers at St Mary’s University College for a leaders’ debate organised by Féile Belfast belied that of the current political situation in Northern Ireland.

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“To change the riverflow of history”: Constitutional pasts and futures @UCDdublin #GFA20

“To change the riverflow of history”: Constitutional pasts and futures @UCDdublin #GFA20
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
8 May 2018

Political and legal scholars, peacemakers and peacebuilders convened at the Royal Irish Academy to review and discuss potential constitutional relationships between Ireland and the United Kingdom, especially vis-a-vis Northern Ireland and the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the import of Brexit.

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Coming to terms with our interdependencies #GFA20

On the 20th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, it is easy to neglect the peace process that preceded it. My reference point is the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, because I learned about the efforts of then Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald the year before, from a magazine article that I read in a local library in my rural hometown in Ohio. I knew then that what he was working on was important.

Exhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall

Exhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall
by Allan LEONARD @SharedFuture
2 August 2017

The Linen Hall Library has presented the first of two exhibitions of its Divided Society digitisation and outreach project. “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” contains artwork, imagery, ephemera, and oral history extracts from firsthand accounts of individual experiences.

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