Before Xchange Summer School: What quarters make your Belfast?

Next week will see the doors opening on this year’s Xchange Summer School and the start of conversations including a section of the event set aside to consider whether Belfast is a “City of Seven Quarters”. The event, through a panel discussion taking stock of the buildings around us in Belfast 2016, is likely to look at issues such as heritage versus the economic benefits of new buildings and well as the impact of conflict not to mention ask if … Read more

Xchange Summer School 2015: bravery in the face of challenge #xss15 (updated with audio from Jo Berry, Patrick Magee, Ann Travers conversation)

Living through the challenge of austerity mean that the Third Sector in Northern Ireland will “have to show bravery, take decisive action, be willing to change, celebrate diversity and yes, think the unthinkable” according to the organisers of the Xchange Summer School. The sofa set from the inaugural event in Enniskillen has been traded in and this year’s contributors are sitting around a kitchen table that has taken over the stage of the Great Hall in UU’s Magee campus. Introduced … Read more

Changing the conversation about liberties … no one had offered them a way out before #xss14

Many delegates wondered what the session on “liberties” would cover at the Xchange Summer School at the end of June. It felt like a clumsy word. Didn’t the organisers mean “freedom” or “human rights”? Liberté surely belonged with Égalité and Fraternité? Yet in the end, the four captivating speakers all brought difference perspectives and dimensions to the subject. Pádraig Ó Tuama was introduced as “poet, theologian, retreat leader and mediator”. He began by talking about a trip last year to … Read more

Changing the conversation about the media … do you feel the hand of vested interests? #xss14

Friday morning at Xchange summer school began with a two hour session looking at how to change the conversation about the media. Denzil McDaniel was joined on the second hand sofas by former journalist and spin-doctor Lance Price, digital investigative journalist Steven McCaffery and ex-newspaper editor, columnist and commentator Nick Garbutt. It was Lance Price’s first trip back to Enniskillen since covering the 1987 bombing for the BBC. Later he worked in 10 Downing Street as deputy communications director (under … 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