Good Friday Agreement ‘best thing that’s happened on this island in the last 100 years’: Coveney

Minister Simon Coveney TD, Ireland Minister for Foreign Affairs, resumed his speech that was interrupted by a bomb scare earlier this year in north Belfast. He was the keynote speaker guest as part of a series of seminars, “Building Common Ground”, organised by the John & Pat Hume Foundation for Peaceful Change and Reconciliation. After Minister Coveney’s address, there was a facilitated discussion with Claire Sugden MLA, a former Justice Minister. Father Gary Donegan reminded the audience that the event venue, the Houben Centre, is …

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Peace Heroines: Spotlight on Stormont

The Herstory project, established in 2016 to elevate the stories of women in national histories, launched an art exhibition at the Long Gallery in Parliament Buildings, Belfast. “Peace Heroines” features nine vibrant, largescale individual portrait paintings by artist FRIZ — women who have made an indelible mark on the Northern Ireland peace process, including Monica McWilliams, Pearl Sagar, Linda Ervine, Pat Hume, May Blood, Ann Carr, and Saidie Patterson. Several took part in an event discussion with Herstory creative director, Melanie Lynch. After …

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‘A Long Night’s Journey into Day’ — distinguishing process and progress of reconciliation in South Africa

As part of the Feile programme of events, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affair’s Reconciliation Fund, the award-winning documentary film about South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process, A Long Night’s Journey into Day, was screened at the James Connolly Visitors Centre, followed by a comprehensive discussion with Professor Brandon Hamber, who shared his experience of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Screening The film covers four stories from the over 22,000 stories submitted to the …

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Musicking for peacebuilding

Musicking for peacebuilding Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation by Allan LEONARD 28 November 2019 The state-of-the-art acoustic facility, the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s University Belfast, was a most appropriate meeting place for a two-day symposium that explored the roles of music, from activist resistance to a hopeful tool for reconciliation from conflict. The event was organised by the Mitchell Institute for Global Peace at Queen’s University. Professor Fiona Magowan welcomed several dozen delegates, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor David …

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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.

Children of the Ceasefire: Reflections on the Border I

As we head into the home stretch of Brexit, the issue of a hard border in Ireland seems to be the main issue. The question of how to regulate the flow of goods and trade has no clear answer. Much has been made by the DUP of there being no need for a border, as trade has always been free-flowing. If that where the case one wonders why the military felt it necessary to ever establish check-points, outposts and look-out …

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Children of the Ceasefire: Reflections on the Border II

Irish. Northern Irish. A global citizen. Three ways in which I described myself in my previous blog post. In describing this, I highlighted my concerns to being constrained to one certain identity. However, as discussions on Brexit intensify, so does the issue of the border and these constraints of identity. I am a holder of an Irish passport. I play and follow Irish sports.  I have studied at an Irish university. I have been christened with an Irish name. I …

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Children of the Ceasefire: Reflections on the Border III

The Issue of the Border in Ireland is a debate caught between two fronts. The border, as it exists currently, is representative of a physical and symbolic/metaphysical indicator of relative peace and stability in Ireland. The openness of the physical border has consequentially allowed for civil debate and meaningful reconciliation between Northern and Southern communities to flourish. The absence of a physical manifestation of the border solidified by investment through the PEACE I-IV, and EDF schemes in Northern Ireland and …

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How do we create a better society? Announcing the ‘Forward Together’ podcasts

To mark 21 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, an important new initiative begins on Good Friday, 19th April, 2019.  A series of podcasts will be broadcast twice a week, seeking answers to questions about the future of Northern Ireland and the border counties. The objective is to promote a wider, more inclusive and engaged conversation about how we make progress, further solidify peace and create a genuinely shared and integrated society.  We want that discussion to …

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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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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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The Downside of Success – Coping with our increasing tourist numbers…

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Over the past number of years, Northern Ireland’s tourism industry has maintained a steady growth and our visitor attractions have continued to become more popular than ever. These high levels of tourism are a relatively new phenomenon for the region and perhaps not one we have yet learnt how to deal with properly. In 2017 there were an estimated 4.9 million overnight trips in Northern Ireland, the highest estimates on record. Many of our most popular visitor attractions are purpose-built …

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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.

Evaluating the Peace

Seán Brennan, from QUB, evaluates the state of our current peace… As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) approaches, much talk will focus on celebrating or condemning – in other words evaluating – our ‘peace process’. When evaluating Northern Ireland’s experience of peace, it may surprise some to learn that our experiences are not universally viewed as a success. In fact, it would be fair to say the ‘liberal peace’ – which is what we have …

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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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“…it should never be forgotten that a genuinely united Ireland must be based on a free union of those living in Ireland”

The strength of positive feeling towards the economist TK Whitaker in the Irish press was extraordinary. I want to come back to that later in the week, since there may still be important lessons to draw on from the manner in which he approached matters. But, in the context of this election to nowhere we’re enduring right now, this snippet from Eoghan Harris on Whitaker’s background role with the Irish government at the outbreak of the Troubles is worth putting into …

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Using art to fill in gaps of our reconciliation @DFATIrl

Using art to fill in gaps of our reconciliation: DFAT Reconciliation Networking Forum
by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation
14 December 2016

At the eleventh annual convening of a reconciliation network organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Ireland), an afternoon panel discussion explored the role of the arts in Northern Ireland’s reconciliation process.

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Pledging for the International Day of Peace

Each year, on 21st September, people throughout the world mark an International Day of Peace.  Across our planet, communities live with the impact of war and violence, but there are also many examples of mankind’s ability to resolve conflict, foster better relationships and create happier, more peaceful societies, including here, in Northern Ireland. It’s more important than ever to celebrate these achievements and promote attempts to encourage peace, understanding and friendship. Over its history, the citizens of Belfast experienced violence, rioting …

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