‘A floating process’: drafting the Downing Street Declaration

The thirtieth anniversary of the Downing Street Declaration was marked by a panel discussion organised by ARINS (Analysing and Researching Ireland, North and South) and held at the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) in Dublin. RIA member Professor Katy Hayward chaired the conversation with Professor Ian McBride, Seán O’Huiginn, and Sir Jonathan Stephens. The event was in support of the Quill Projects at Pembroke College, Oxford; Writing Peace is bringing together archives, private papers, and oral histories from across the political …

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GRACE: measuring trust for better community relations

On the International Day of Peace, as part of Good Relations Week, research undertaken through a partnership between the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (Coventry University) and Community Relations in Schools (CRIS) was launched. The research examines the role of trust-building in school-based reconciliation initiatives: “Trust, while taken for granted as important, has not been deeply unpacked or examined to better understand its more particular role in facilitating a move towards reconciliation,” declared the organisers, and the panel …

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‘Building anew’: sharing lessons of transition in Germany and Ireland

A conference to mark Germany Unity Day was held at the Royal Irish Academy, co-hosted by ARINS (Analysing and Researching Ireland, North and South), Maynooth University, and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Dublin. Two panel discussions explored practical matters of transition in Germany while being alert to and making attempts to avoid and/or counter societal polarisation in any transformation process. The German Ambassador to Ireland, Cord Meier-Klodt, said that for him the focus of the day’s …

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Addressing the evil of sectarianism: Bill Shaw on life, faith, and hope

The retreat and conference centre run by the Passionate community, Tobar Mhuire, was the venue for a guided interview with Bill Shaw, presented as an opportunity “to explore their experience of life, faith, and where they find sources of hope in their lives”. The event was included as part of Good Relations Week 2023. Brian McKee, a professional facilitator and director of Seedlings, welcomed the attendees and invited Shaw to start from the beginning. Declaring himself, “I’m from Sandy Row,” …

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Acknowledging deep hurt and pain: Day of Reflection at Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Council hosted an annual Day of Reflection event for a second year, providing an opportunity for people and communities across the city to acknowledge the deep hurt and pain caused by the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. After introductory remarks, a short film was repeated during the day, interspersed with readings from a variety of authors. Attendees were invited to share their hopes for the future by adding a leaf to a “Message Tree”, and a number …

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Transmitting photographic energy of colour and love: Hannah Starkey’s Northern Ireland peace women

As part of the Belfast Photo Festival and in partnership with the Ulster Museum, artist Hannah Starkey gave a talk about her previous work and current exhibition on display, Principled and Revolutionary: Northern Ireland’s Peace Women. She addressed an audience of two dozen seated in the middle of the exhibition room, surrounded by 21 two-metre portraits on the walls. Starkey began by sharing memories of growing up in Belfast, accompanying her mother at her market stall, noting her respect and …

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‘We have institutions to build a better future’: Bríd Rodgers

As part of its Origins & Legacies: The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement project at the Linen Hall Library, some of the protagonists of the negotiations from across the political spectrum shared their insights at The Origins of the Agreement event. The panellists were: Gary McMichael; Monica McWilliams; Bríd Rodgers; Peter, Lord Weir; and Mitchel McLaughlin. The conversation was chaired by Mark Simpson, political correspondent for the BBC at the time of the agreement of the peace accord. The library’s chief executive, …

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Art can transcend GFA ‘institutional sclerosis’: Paul Arthur

Professor Paul Arthur (Ulster University) suggested that the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement could be interpreted as “the end of the beginning”, when we moved from a political life of zero-sum (if you’re winning, I must be losing), to one of agreeing to disagree (with an element of mutual respect). He elaborated on this during his talk at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady, as part of a series of events co-hosted with his university and the Causeway Coast …

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The memorials in our heads: the Im/material Monument (Gail Ritchie)

As the information sheet for Gail Ritchie’s exhibition, The Im/material Monument, points out, 25 years after the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement there is no memorial to commemorate the collective dead of the Troubles. Through a series of objects, Ritchie challenges our imaginations as to what our memorialising could be. With a guided tour, she explained the motivations and intent of her work on display at QSS Artist Studios. Ritchie began her curated tour by remarking that she had …

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‘Human peace wall’ marks Good Friday Agreement’s 25th anniversary

A “human peace wall” event at a Belfast interface marked the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. About 100 people lined up from the Falls Road to the Shankill Road end on Northumberland Street, forming a line of solidarity across the community. They stood still for 25 seconds, to mark the years since the peace accord was agreed upon. The event was organised by New Life City Church and the Falls Residents’ Association. After some singing and prayers by …

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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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