Will genuine reconciliation ever be possible?

Alex Kane is never short of opinions; after all, that is his job. One of his latest tweets has gotten people talking: I’ve spent many, many years, reflecting on the possibility of genuine reconciliation between unionism and republicanism (either in NI in UK, or in a united Ireland). My conclusion: it will never be possible. The chasms are now unbridgeable. — Alex.Kane (@AlexKane221b) July 6, 2020 Alex does get stick for being a pessimist, but I prefer to think of …

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Towards an Agreed and Reconciled Future – Sinn Féin latest policy benchmark on promoting reconciliation and tackling sectarianism

Sinn Féin’s national chairperson Declan Kearney voiced his support for a policy document on Inclusion and Reconciliation in a New Ireland, that was adopted by delegates at last weekend’s ard fheis in Derry. As with all political party policies, there is much that is old and reinforced, as well as new nuance and specificity that a party’s actions (and those of its elected representatives and members) can be held to in the future.

Considering Grace: An invitation to listen

Considering Grace: An invitation to listen by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News 5 November 2019 Considering Grace, by Gladys Ganiel and Jamie Yohanis, is a new book that explores how Presbyterians responded to the Troubles, through a series of narratives from 120 people who tell their stories of how they coped with trauma and tests of their faith. The book was launched with a set of readings and short presentations at Assembly Buildings, Belfast, to an audience of several …

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Future Ireland: Uniting people is the starting point

I was in a cafe recently when the owner, who I know from being a regular, came over and asked me, “David, clear something up between me and the Missus – was that you on the TV we saw the other night … [puzzled look] … you were part of a panel … Mike Nesbitt was there too.” To which I answered – ‘Yes, guilty! Was me!’ After a little discussion about how he didn’t realise I was interested in …

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Future Ireland / Unity: Telling a Different Story

“There was never any moment in our history when slavery was not a sleeping serpent. It lay coiled up under the table during the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention.  Owing to the cotton gin it was more than half awake.  Thereafter, it was on everyone’s mind though not always on his tongue.” – John Jay Chapman. THE QUESTION The ‘national question is insolvable’, according to Fintan O’Toole. What O’Toole is referring to is the prevalence of irritants and grievances, imagined …

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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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Our son of a bitch

The headline of Doug Beattie’s article in the Belfast Telegraph yesterday illustrates how sloppy language and sloppy logic hinder rather than help the process of understanding. Leave aside the article itself for now; one sentence in the headline alone (“Republicans weren’t victims, they were victim-makers”) contains a prime example of both. Firstly, the sloppy language of “Republicans” fails to distinguish between the Provisional IRA and those people who never picked up a gun but would still regard themselves as Republican. …

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Courage of Kingsmills Victims Defied Sectarian Divide

Reconciliation statue Photo by Amanda Slater

Much ink has been spilled about the sorry Barry McElduff/Kingsmills loaf saga. Susan McKay’s analysis in Tuesday’s Irish Times is one of the most insightful, but bleak, contributions. It’s worth reading her full text, which brings her to this conclusion: The absence of reconciliation has never been more starkly apparent, and as usual, those most hurt in the past are hurt again. One paragraph in McKay’s article jumped out for me, because though tragic, it demonstrated for me that there …

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CRC Award for Fr Gary Donegan; & Reconciliation Reframed by Rev Norman Hamilton

Fr Gary Donegan, a Passionist priest who served 15 years at Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne in North Belfast, was today honoured with the Community Relations Council (CRC) Award for Exceptional Achievement. Rev Norman Hamilton presented the award after delivering the annual David Stevens Memorial Lecture on “Reconciliation Reframed.” The event was held in the new Houben Centre in the grounds of Holy Cross Church. You can read the lecture in full here: Stevens Lecture 13 Jan 2017 FNL Pub Donegan was …

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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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What simple, imaginative elisions might suffice a genuine reconciliation for Northern Ireland?

Yesterday, Martin McGuinness (and a cohort of SF politicians from north and south) was at Messines, where thousands of Irishmen died in the Battle of the Somme.  An important gesture, no doubt. But in 2016, how is that decade of centenaries coming along in real Northern Ireland? In Derry the council has ordered the halting of work on the war memorial in the city’s Diamond. And in Magherafelt there’s an out of the blue proposal for a statue of Pádraig …

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“genuine reconciliation”, is based “on calling things wrong that were wrong”

Their love of country, millions all mis-spent, How reconcile? by reconciling rent! – George Gordon Byron Reconciliation is a word bandied around as though everyone had the same shared understanding of what it means. Those who do use it in freely in terms of Northern Ireland’s shared history seem oddly reluctant to define it clearly when asked. Within the tenets of the Catholic Church confession is often referred to as the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. It’s a largely private …

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The Good Friday Agreement twenty years on – Why can’t we get over the Troubles?

Sometimes an idea for an article just comes along. I was listening to the radio last week and Dermot Nesbitt, one of the Ulster Unionist negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement, was speaking on Nolan about its 18th anniversary. He pointed out that that when he was a young man, the Second World War had ended eighteen years previously and none of his generation thought about it.  Young people were more interested in Beatlemania than the Battle of Britain and …

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Freeing up peace impasse with WD-40

Freeing up peace impasse with WD-40: The David Stevens Memorial Lecture by Rev. Harold Good by Allan Leonard for Northern Ireland Foundation 1 October 2015 At the third annual David Stevens Memorial Lecture, the Rev. Harold Good used a physical metaphor of a tin of WD-40 lubricant to illustrate the need to ‘unlock and free up the mechanisms’ of peace building. The Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council, Ms Jacqueline Irwin, introduced Rev. Good by reviewing the life of …

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What does your da do? Quiet Conversations with Ex-UDR Members

UDR Crest

Over the years different people have been talking about conversations and their place in our peace process.  Former Chief Constable Matt Baggott spoke about “quiet conversations”, Vicky Cosstick, author of a comprehensive book on the walls of Belfast, wrote about the importance of “relationships and conversations” to help bring the walls down whilst Sinn Féin Party President Declan Kearney has been promoting “uncomfortable conversations”.  Conversations, I believe are valuable, even transformative.    I would see this article as the beginning …

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Forgive for the sake of the future?

Forgive for the sake of the future? A lecture by Duncan Morrow by Allan Leonard for Northern Ireland Foundation 29 September 2015 As part of the Community Relations Week programme, a former Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council, Dr Duncan Morrow, gave a lecture that explored how unresolved trauma affects the legacy for future generations. Sitting in the same chairs as the elected representatives occupy in the chamber at Down District Council, Dr Morrow told the audience that he …

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Knitting together: CRC annual conference

As Chair of the Communication Relations Council, Peter Osborne, welcomed delegates to their annual policy and practice conference at Stormont Hotel, Belfast, he explained the event theme, “One Place — Many People”: “All of us in this room are a minority of some sort; we are all minorities in this place we call home.” Mr Osborne added that it will be relationships between us that will dismantle bigotry and sectarianism. But that ordinary people in Northern Ireland are suffering from …

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An uncomfortable conversation* at #Feile15 [*in the sense that a lack of hope leads optimism to wither]

Pulling names out of a hat to decide the order of speaking, Presbyterian Minister and deputy Equality Commissioner Rev Lesley Carroll began by looking through “a dark lens” and delivered a downbeat assessment of the present state of reconciliation in Northern Ireland – we need to “change our tune, change our dance steps, or we’ll burrow a hole in the ground and fall into it”. She was followed by CRC chair Peter Osborne who spoke about continued segregation, relative funding …

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Reconciliation In Derry – Remembering Messines

After a pretty heavy engagement on Slugger last weekend on the role of republicans, loyalists and the state regarding the troubles and its many victims, I was left feeling a little hopeless about how to overcome the barriers on the road to reconciliation. However, when I saw this article in the Belfast Telegraph, I have to admit my spirits were lifted somewhat. It is only in recent years that the Irish state has moved to lift the blanket of collective amnesia that for …

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National reconciliation: “Patriotism is not enough”

In the second of a series of seminars organised by Niamh Mental Wellbing, Reverend Dr Gary Mason facilitated a civic engagement in a packed room at Skainos on the Newtownards Road, Belfast. The discussants were Declan Kearney (Sinn Féin), Reverend Harold Good (former President, Methodist Church in Ireland) and Nelson McCausland MLA (substituting for Jeffrey Donaldson MP). For Mr Kearney, national reconciliation is for Protestant, Catholic, Dissenter and those of no religious affiliation and beyond. His concern is that the journey …

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