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@SharedFuture @SluggerOToole

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

The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss.
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
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 Northern Ireland.

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@NorthernSlant @SharedFuture

Burn/t Out: Crimes against social cohesion

Burn/t Out: Crimes against social cohesion
by Allan LEONARD
10 April 2019

One of the criticisms of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is that it did not satisfactorily scope out mechanisms for dealing with the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland; the focus was forging a consensus on exclusively non-violent means of pursuing politics. One form of violence during the Troubles was the forced displacement of some 45,000-plus people from their homes, whether through physically burning their properties or verbal intimidation. On the 21st anniversary of the Agreement, an art exhibition was launched at ArtCetera Studio. Organised by artist and filmmaker Casey Asprooth-Jackson and academic Brendan Ciarán Browne, Burn/t Out presents narratives and artefacts of Northern Ireland’s internally displaced persons.

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@SharedFuture @SluggerOToole

Sustaining hope for peace: Global Conflict 2018 #GFA20

Sustaining hope for peace: Global Conflict 2018 #GFA20
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
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.

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@SharedFuture

Do wars really end? A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot (Sinead O’Shea)

Do wars really end? A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot (Sinead O’Shea)
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
19 April 2018

A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot, a film directed by Sinead O’Shea and screened at the Belfast Film Festival at the Queen’s Film Theatre, is a story about Philip O’Donnell Jr and his world around him, in supposedly post-conflict Northern Ireland.

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@MrUlster @NorthernSlant Private

Ephemera to direct our future: Introduction to the Peter Moloney Collection

Ephemera to direct our future: Introduction to the Peter Moloney Collection
by Allan LEONARD
10 April 2018

Peter Moloney, who collected Troubles-related ephemera for over 50 years, presented a personal lecture on how it began, why he decided to donate it all to the Tower Museum, and how he’ll keep on collecting.

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@MrUlster @NorthernSlant Essays Photography

A victim from the inside out: Photographic exhibition of Maurice Hobson

A victim from the inside out: Photographic exhibition of Maurice Hobson
by Allan LEONARD
6 September 2017

Maurice Hobson was a 17-year-old pupil at Dungannon Royal School when a bomb blew up in Market Square, while he was waiting to board the school bus. A car jack hit him on the left side of his head, requiring over 80 stitches.

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@SharedFuture @SluggerOToole

“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS

“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
25 July 2017

As part of the 30th anniversary of the John Hewitt Society international summer school, the Institute for Conflict Research (ICR) sponsored a panel discussion, “The Art of Conflict Transformation”, which explored how visual and performance art have contributed to our evolving conversation of our troubled past, with hope for dealing with legacy as well as prospects for reconciliation.

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@MrUlster @NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Conflicting Images @UlsterMuseum

Conflicting Images @UlsterMuseum
by Allan LEONARD
26 July 2017

As part of its Collecting the Troubles and Beyond initiative, the Ulster Museum currently has an exhibition called Conflicting Images: Photography during the Northern Irish Troubles.

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@SharedFuture

An acorn matures: Book launch of Little House on a Peace Line (Tony MACAULAY)

An acorn matures: Book launch of Little House on a Peace Line (Tony MACAULAY)
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
27 June 2017

The Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts was the venue for the launch of Tony Macaulay’s latest edition of growing up in the contested space of Northern Ireland: Little House on a Peace Line.

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@MrUlster @NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Softening images of Partition

Softening images of Partition
by Allan LEONARD
24 May 2017

Although John Irvine left Northern Ireland over 15 years ago, having grown up about East Antrim, he retains “strong links” and comes home frequently. Irvine explained how one morning drive accidentally led him to his book, Partition.

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@ForumCities Private

The primacy of dialogue: Michael DOHERTY

The primacy of dialogue: Michael Doherty
by Allan LEONARD for Forum for Cities in Transition
2 September 2016

The refurbished premise of the Holywell Trust was the venue for a lunchtime conversation about the Maiden City’s involvement with the Forum for Cities in Transition. Attending were two dozen local citizens, from all walks of life — active community workers, a retired doctor, and simply the curious.

FCT Derry-Londonderry member, Michael Doherty, began his presentation with a resume of his professional mediation experience, which includes working behind the scenes to facilitate dialogue.

He said that there is “no hierarchy of conflict”, and you need to look at each conflict situation in its own context, not your own.

One challenge for any society sorting out conflict, is that for many, they’re still living in it, Michael added.

Here in Northern Ireland, he gave examples of the continuing saliency of parading, and our lack of progress on dealing with the past.

Yet the biggest lesson that Michael has learnt from his participation in the Forum is the importance of dialogue.

He added that dialogue is only possible when you humanise each other.

Michael suggested some experiences from the Northern Ireland peace process that may, or may not, be useful for other societies emerging from conflict:

  1. How the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement was assisted through back-channel dialogue, taking place for many years beforehand
  2. How the acceptance of bringing in outsiders to the conflict (USA) helped establish the ground rules for dialogue (the Mitchell Principles)
  3. Appreciating the value of multiple forms of mediation (“the hierarchy of mediation”)
  4. How we managed to keep public and private services going throughout the conflict (water, electricity, post, milkmen) and how important this is
  5. How we are, and are not, dealing with aftermaths of our peace agreement (positively: reform of policing service; negatively: disagreement of definition of “victim”)
  6. How the significant financial support we received (especially from European Union) may be absent from other conflict peace processes
  7. While our public policy on community relations (Together: Building a United Community) may be disappointing, but as official policy is more than other societies’ government initiatives

He then described the pledged projects that the FCT Derry-Londonderry group has made over the years of its participation in the Forum:

  • Professional exchange visits and training between the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Kosovo Police, on how to provide leadership and engage with local communities for consensual policing
  • Sending local young people to FCT Youth conference in Mitrovica
  • Sharing mediation training programmes with FCT Tripoli
  • Development of Policing and Communities in Transition (PACT) programme, mutual learning with USA police forces

Michael finished with a poignant lesson about dealing with the past: he showed a photo from a site visit to a local community in Kaduna, Nigeria, and delicately explained the sensitivities of ensuring that those who have been through traumatic events (such as the two young people in the image) were not re-traumatised through inquiries or probing by others. He emphasised that we must wholly take this point on board in our own dealings with the past here in Northern Ireland (and applicable everywhere).

The subsequent question and answer session explored various dimensions of conflict, such as criminality, feeling of community sell-out and losing out, and comparisons of other, longer-entrenched conflicts.

Yet Michael reminded all of us sitting in a large circle that even now we didn’t raise the topic of sectarianism, which underwrites much of our daily lives.

May the Forum for Cities in Transition provide an arena to have the difficult conversations that we need to have, for the sake of conflict transformation.

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@ForumCities @MrUlster @SharedFuture

Art opens up community imagination

Art opens up community imagination
Peacebuilding and the Arts: An Imagine Belfast Festival discussion
by Allan LEONARD
11 March 2015

As part of the Imagine Belfast Festival, the Northern Ireland Foundation and Forum for Cities in Transition hosted a discussion event, “Peacebuilding and the Arts”, which explored how art has progressed peace in Northern Ireland.