Engage with the Power of Reason

Peter O’Neill is the director and founder of the Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas. Politics in Northern Ireland has had a tough year. With no Executive since January 2017, an election that changed little just over a year ago and the prospect of our departure from the EU firmly on the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking that ideas on how to overcome these challenges are in short supply. One of the victims of the political impasse has … Read more

‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life … Rethinking the Public University (Prof John Brewer) #ImagineBelfast15

The public university is dead … a slow and lingering death, … and its corpse lies lifeless in every senior managers’ meeting, in every classroom and every tutorial venue … in every boarded up common room and every closed bookshop. QUB’s Prof John Brewer argued over lunchtime that neo-liberalisation and a marketisation of higher education – as much a Thatcher and Blair process as a ConDem coalition one – has destroyed universities. Surprisingly, those responsible for the patient’s care were … Read more

The Role of History & Historians in Dealing with the Past after the Stormont House Agreement #ImagineBelfast15

Today’s lunchtime debate in the UU’s Belfast campus was the best attended of the week – so far – and also the most fractious. Grainne Kelly chaired a panel of Adrian Grant (historian), Cillian McGrattan (politics) and Susan McKay (journalist and writer) who discussed the Role of History and Historians in Dealing with the Past after the Stormont House Agreement. Adrian Grant started by looking at definitions of history (objective truth? or an artform based on narratives of the past?) … Read more

Who Cares about Gender and Dealing with the Past? #ImagineBelfast15 (updated with audio)

Carmel Roulston and (a rather hoarse) Fidelma Ashe presented a lunchtime seminar entitled Who Cases about Gender and Dealing with the Past. Part of the Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics, the lunchtime sessions at UU and QUB are intended to be accessible to the general public and not too academic. Carmel and Fidelma’s material looked at why gender has tended to be left out of many processes that are looking at the past, and contrasted them with the Haass/O’Sullivan … Read more

Big Politics Pub Quiz – anagram round!

Ten days to go until the return of the Great Big Politics Quiz – a night to find the champions of all-things-balloty, this year as part of the all-new Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics. So, if you’re a politician, press officer, policy wonk, journalist, lobbyist, psephologist, academic, student, blogger, tweeter, House of Cards binge-viewer or just a West Wing wannabe… it’s almost time to prove yourself. Just so there can be no lingering arguments over hanging chads, no … Read more

The Alternative Manifesto: what policies would you like to see included? #ImagineBelfast15

In the run up to the general election we want to hear from people about what they would like to see changed. As political parties polish their election manifestos and get ready to bombard us with inducements to vote for their representatives, we think it’s an opportune time to think about what we would change if we were in charge. As part of the Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics, we would like to kick off a conversation on … Read more