Offer of help with truth recovery process at Irish Council of Churches centenary service

The Irish Council of Churches (ICC) — an all-island body with membership from Protestant, Orthodox, Reformed, and independent church traditions — marked its centenary with a joint service of worship at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. With the theme of “Celebrating our Reconciling Vision of Hope”, the special service also marked the 50th anniversary of the Ballymascanlon Talks, which led to the establishment of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting (IICM), the means by which the ICC continues to engage and collaborate with …

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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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The media’s role in peacebuilding: none of its business?

So is peacebuilding none of the media’s business? That was a conclusion that broadcaster and journalist, Declan Harvey, posed to a panel of fellow journalists and writers at an online webinar delivered through Belfast City Council’s PEACE IV Programme, which is funded through the EU and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Panellists Alex Kane, Amanda Ferguson, and Leona O’Neill shared their perspectives and experiences of reporting in Northern Ireland, answering questions from Declan Harvey and those submitted by …

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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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The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss.

The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss. by Allan LEONARD 8 November 2019 A two-day international conference examined the role that media plays in divided societies and in creating more peaceful and stable communities. Organised by the Social Change Initiative in partnership with Conciliation Resources and the University of Edinburgh’s Political Settlements Research Programme, the event was attended by journalists from South Africa, Colombia, Myanmar, Rwanda, Turkey, the Middle East, the Balkans, Kashmir, Somalia, Syria, Nepal, and …

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The role of media in conflict: A Féile discussion

The role of media in conflict: A Féile discussion by Allan LEONARD 8 August 2019 Hosted by Féile an Phobail, the campaign group Time for Truth organised an event to examine the role of the media in conflict and to listen to the account of those journalists in the front line who helped shape and influence the narrative. The panellists were Amanda Ferguson (journalist), Sean Murray (film director), Trevor Birney (film producer), and Barry McCaffery (journalist). After welcoming those attending …

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Shared housing and integrated education: Building good community relations

Shared housing and integrated education: Building good community relations by Allan LEONARD 7 August 2019 A panel discussion on how shared housing projects and the integrated education movement are contributing towards good community relations was held at St Mary’s College, Belfast, as part of the Feile Festival. The panellists were Deborah Howe (Equality Commission), Christine Davis (Housing Executive), Grainne Mullin (Radius Housing), and Jill Caskey (Integrated Education Fund). The event was chaired by Gerry McConville. After a welcome by Jessica …

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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.

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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Another fine edition of our human books: Living Library #GRWeek18

As part of Good Relations Week 2018, Belfast City Council hosted its seventh annual Living Library event, where public visitors come in to borrow a “human book” — a person who sits across from you in a one-to-one storytelling session. The event organiser, Leish Dolan (Good Relations Officer, Belfast City Council), told us that this series began after coming across The Human Library organisation, by chance. With colleague Anne Deighan, they used their existing contacts and established the first Living Library in …

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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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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.

20 years since the Good Friday Agreement – It’s time the value of women’s peace building work is recognised

In the latest part of our sHERed Future series, Kellie Turtle (Feminist Activist and WRDA’s Women’s Sector Lobbyist) writes about the role of women in peace building in Northern Ireland In any discussion of women’s participation in building peace in Northern Ireland it is important to say that women have always been politically active agents of change here; from the suffragettes who were the first hunger strikers in our prisons, to the trade unionists who fought child labour and exploitation …

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