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. … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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.

Read moreUsing art to fill in gaps of our reconciliation @DFATIrl

Peace Journalist • Editor • Writer • Photographer • Peacebuilding a shared Northern Irish society • allan@mrulster.com • www.mrulster.com

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 … Read more

“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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

Is time the only consistent factor in post-conflict reconciliation?

In the course of a recent conversation, the statement was made that while international studies can point to many policies and initiatives that failed to lead to increased levels of reconciliation, few if any studies cite examples of practices or policies that can be shown to have successfully accelerated reconciliation. Whether on the back of a family dispute, a church split, or communities driven apart through forty years of conflict (and hundreds of years of debated history before that), the … Read more

Not a cosy conversation: Victims and survivors conference

The Commission for Victims and Survivors (CVS) convened a conference “to listen to as many voices as possible” in forming its advice to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, the CVS Commissioner Kathryn Stone explained. The event was well attended by a couple hundred delegates, representing the broad spectrum from Northern Ireland’s Troubles; but remarkably absent were politicians. https://soundcloud.com/mrulster/20140225-cvs-01-kathryn-stone?in=mrulster/sets/20140225-cvs-conference Commissioner Stone quoted the Haass-O’Sullivan published draft document, in regards to the leadership role demonstrated to date … Read more

On the matter of uncertainty and principle…

With all due apologies to students of quantum physics out there, Brian Feeney’s ‘poetic’ use of the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in today’s Irish News (£) to explain the SDLP’s apparent confusion over the last fortnight is too good to resist: The principle suggests that the closer you get to establishing the position of a particle the harder it is to work out the speed of its movement [or rather its momentum – Ed]. Conversely the closer you get to working … Read more

“For reconciliation to work it must be a social rather than political process… “

Good piece from Barney Rowan, with a useful perspective from the PUP on Sinn Fein’s reconciliation project lead by party officer (probably a reflection of how highly the project lies within party priorities) Declan Kearney… “However reconciliation is defined, we believe that it will not work if conceived as an extension of the political process,” the document reads. “In that instance reconciliation will become little more than a reinforcement of the two-horse political race that currently dominates. It will be … Read more

Reconciliation: “Not every question will be answered”

Brian Rowan at Eamonn’s place notes that there is a difference between getting to the truth of the past, and an apology: Everyone and every side understands that more has to be done – the questions are within what structure and within what rules? Not every question will be answered – but let’s find out what answers are possible and within what context, and let all sides do it in the here and now. The last phrase there, the here … Read more

Loyalists and Republicans using manipulative means to justify terror campaigns?

Alex Kane weighs into the victims fray: I don’t think there will be a definition of ‘victim’ which is acceptable to all sides. I don’t think there will be a definition of ‘reconciliation’ which is acceptable to all sides. I don’t think there will be a definition of ‘shared future’ which is acceptable to all sides. I don’t think there will be much agreement on what is meant by ‘dealing with the past’, let alone what is meant by ‘putting … Read more