‘We need an agency to promote social integration’, says Father Martin Magill

Northern Ireland needs a body lobbying for social integration, learning from the success of the Integrated Education Fund in its work promoting integrated schools, says Father Martin Magill.  Without an agency pushing the integrated housing agenda, it will be difficult to make sufficient progress, he says.  Martin was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “I grew up living in a neighbourhood where my next door neighbour was Presbyterian; further on down the road Church of Ireland; further down the …

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New way of consulting with civic society is part of the talks negotiations, discloses Naomi Long

Creating a new mechanism for consulting with civic society is part of the talks negotiations aimed at getting Stormont back, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long has disclosed.  Naomi is a newly elected MEP, former MP and has just resigned her role as an MLA.  She was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “We need to find a role for engaging with civil society,” suggests Naomi.  “I think there is a lot of good work that goes on in our …

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‘A stronger role for civic society must be central to getting government back’

International peace negotiator John McKinney has urged the political parties to include a stronger role for civic society in a reformed structure of governance for Northern Ireland.  John – a former chief executive of the Special EU Programmes Body and of Omagh District Council – was speaking in the latest Forward Together podcast. Asked how civil society in Northern Ireland should be strengthened, John says: “I don’t think we have a framework adequate to do it.  I think we had …

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‘Citizens’ Assembly could help progress with health reform’, suggests Simon Hamilton

The adoption of a citizens’ assembly could assist with making progress with reform of the health service in Northern Ireland, says Simon Hamilton – a DUP MLA and former health and finance minister.  He was interviewed in the latest ‘Forward Together’ podcast. Speaking about the use of citizens’ assemblies in the Republic of Ireland, Simon explains: “They shouldn’t be dismissed instantly just because you didn’t like what some other jurisdiction was doing with them.”  He adds: “I know from my …

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Are the terms civic “unionists” and civic “nationalists” an oxymoron?

  Over the past year we’ve heard many laments about the vacuum in decision taking but little specifically critical of politics from leaders of society. That’s par for the course for people who  have been keeping our  show on the road for decades. Few of them had little respect for political parties who in their view held society back. But now twenty years after the GFA and after a year – or many years by another measure – of deadlock, …

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Time for civic society to engage more in our political process…

At the height of the stream of public revelations about RHI in December 2016, a press release on The Executive Office’s website declared the names of six appointments to the Northern Ireland ‘compact civic panel’. Arlene Foster described this news as ‘‘another example of us getting on with the work. It presents a unique opportunity to take a fresh approach to dealing with the strategic issues which Government deal with and which impact directly on people’s lives’’. Martin McGuinness added: …

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What is the Civic Forum and do we really need it?

What’s that you say? Civic Forum? What on earth is that? It’s easier to say what its not. It’s not a Seanad for Northern Ireland. It would be a bit embarrassing building an upper story to Stormont’s Parliamentary architecture just as Dublin is considering getting rid of theirs… But the Assembly has voted to bring back what will be a standing consultative body after the SDLP lay down a motion to that effect. Newton Emerson is less than impressed. His …

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