Displaying episodes 1 - 30 of 77 in total
Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron must accept part of the responsibility for the continuing “gridlock” of politics in Northern Ireland, through their failure to engage in the political process here, argues former Labour secretary of state Peter Hain. He also allocates blame to Conservative secretaries of state, with the exception of Julian Smith. This is the 18th and final episode in the third series of Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts. This follows interviews with the leaders of the five political parties in government in Northern Ireland; Simon Hoare MP, who is chair of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee; and sector experts, who have assessed the need for reform of our public services. All the past podcasts are available on the Holywell Trust website.
Political legacy of distrust cannot be wished away, says Donaldson The distrust between Northern Ireland’s political parties remains a legacy of the conflict and cannot be wished away or ignored, says DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson. He adds that the events of the Bobby Storey funeral and commemorations of dead members of the Provisional IRA mean that the Troubles remain a continuing source of tension between the largest parties. He was speaking in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast.
Legacy is being discussed at length at present, following the British government’s proposals to abandon prosecutions and investigations into Troubles’ events. But there is another toxic legacy – the impact of past events on current political relationships. That aspect of legacy is discussed with Sinn Féin Vice President and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast. Michelle argues that political leaders must work hard to build trust, to enable the political system here to work more effectively. But she adds that the challenge of the pandemic has created a situation in which ministers have had to work together and this provides an example and basis for future working relationships.
Truth and honesty must be at the heart of how we deal with the legacy of the past and in how politicians in Northern Ireland govern today, says Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP and MP for the Foyle constituency. He was speaking in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast and is the third political leader to be interviewed in the series, discussing how to make progress in Northern Ireland. Victims have been badly treated, stresses Colum, and they need truth and respect. Listen to the full episode here.
If we are to make progress in Northern Ireland’s society, we need to reflect carefully on our core values and ensure that these are reflected in the way government works. This is the message put forward by Naomi Long – leader of the Alliance Party and justice minister – in the second of the Holywell Trust’s Forward Together podcast interviews of Northern Ireland’s political leaders. Among the points stressed by Naomi is that violence is not acceptable as a means of getting what you want. Other core messages are that we must develop strong and positive role models and that the use of children in recent rioting is an example of child abuse. Listen to the full episode here.
The third series of Holywell Trust’s Forward Together podcasts has heard from experts in a range of areas – including the economy, skills, education, young people’s experience, housing - and also considered best practice elsewhere. As it moves towards a close, it puts the arguments for major change in the governance of Northern Ireland to our political leaders. In the first of this closing series of podcasts, we spoke to Steve Aiken – who at the time was still leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. (We did not predict his early demise as party leader. Neither did he, judging by the conversation.) Listen to the full episode here.
Northern Ireland’s economy has a number of weaknesses. At the heart of these is the shortage of skills – higher levels of skills moves an economy up the value chain, leading to improved productivity and greater wealth. Too many of NI’s school leavers have lower levels of qualifications and skills than are needed for the modern economy. This reduces their prospects for obtaining well paid jobs, while some will become long-term unemployed or economically inactive. NI has the UK’s highest rate of economic inactivity. The skills environment is discussed with the chief executive of the Pivotal think tank Ann Watt in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast.
Social care provision is in crisis across much of the world. How can the quality of care be maintained or improved? How can it be made available to those who need it? And how can social care be carried out in an affordable way without underpaying or exploiting its workers? These questions are being asked in many countries and regions. Italy has come up with its own answer – social co-operatives – and its model is being copied across much of Europe. The latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast interviews John Restakis, who is executive director of Community Evolution Foundation, which describes itself as “a community economic development organisation that partners with cooperatives and community-based enterprises to help communities gain control of their local economies”. He has studied the experience of social co-ops in Italy.
For all the focus on integrated education, if communities continue to live separately then little progress will be made towards integrating our society. So developing more areas of shared housing is essential if we are to make progress. But the lack of genuinely shared communities is only one of the housing challenges facing Northern Ireland today. There is more generally a shortage of social housing, compared with demand, leading to increasing waiting lists. Listen to Prof. Paddy Gray have a conversation with Paul Gosling on some of the housing challenges we face.
Concentration of the retail and consumer services sectors in the hands of a limited number of multinational corporations sucks wealth out of local communities and into the hands of shareholders based elsewhere. So should the response be to build the local economy by supporting independent businesses based in those localities, while maximising the spend of public institutions in their local communities? Listen to our interview with Neil McInroy from Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) on community wealth building approaches.
The Mondragon federation of co-operatives has been the foundation of the economy in Spain's Basque country for decades. It was founded back in 1956 by a priest - José María Arizmendiarrieta - who believed that the best response to the hostility and neglect of the region by the fascist dictator Franco was to develop co-operatives that relied on mutual self-help and independence. Today there are 96 co-operatives which are members of the federation, employing more than 81,000 people. The federation includes manufacturing businesses, financial institutions, retailers and its own university - which operates as a knowledge, research and development centre for the group. Mondragon is the largest business operation in the Basque region and one of the ten largest commercial organisations in Spain.
While it is frequently claimed that Northern Ireland has an excellent schools system, it is clear that it is also a divided system. That division is not just based on religion, but also whether a pupil attends a grammar or a non-selective school, which is related to the wealth of the parents. The system clearly separates children, despite the need of our society to come together to heal division. This week’s Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast hears from Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma, on how we repair the damage of that division. The conversation considers pre-school childcare, the age at which children should start school and the relationship between parental wealth and the system of selection. Koulla wants school reforms to make sufficient progress that all parents have the confidence to send their children to their local school.
In all the dozens of podcast interviews broadcast by the Holywell Trust, one idea to strengthen our society has been put forward repeatedly – citizens’ assemblies. They are not universally popular – both DUP and Conservative Party politicians have expressed concerns they would undermine the link between elected representatives and their constituents, threatening politicians’ legitimacy.
Northern Ireland is a different place today, than when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. It is not just that many more people here today do not feel aligned to the traditional unionist and nationalist/republican identities, but we have many more ‘new citizens’ from other places. Lilian Seenoi-Barr is a well-known advocate for black and minority ethnic communities in Northern Ireland, as director of the North West Migrants Forum. In the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast Lilian discusses identity and the rise of racism in Northern Ireland.
Never mind Bill Clinton saying, ‘it’s the economy, stupid’, the answers to Northern Ireland’s difficulties are instead perhaps Tony Blair’s mantra, ‘education, education, education’. In fact, the main way to tackle the economic problems of Northern Ireland are arguably to focus on education and skills. Seamus McGuinness, research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, discusses the weaknesses of Northern Ireland’s education and skills system in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast. Although ESRI is based in Dublin, Seamus is an expert on the labour market in the North.
Education is the key to progress Education is the key to moving our society forward, says Tony Gallagher in the latest Forward Together podcast interview. But that has to mean much more than encouraging as many students as possible to go to university and obtain a degree. Our society has become fixated with university education, at the expense of school pupils who do not aspire to higher education.
The GFA brought peace - but paramilitaries haven’t gone away The Good Friday Agreement ended the bitter conflict, but failed to eliminate the poison of paramilitarism. In the latest Forward Together interview recorded before the loyalist street riots protesting against the Brexit Protocol and the latest paramilitary shootings in Derry, Duncan Morrow considers the limitations of the GFA. Northern Ireland remains overshadowed by paramilitaries that claim a political motivation, yet are engaged in criminal enterprises that include the drug trade, protection rackets and loan sharking.
Holywell Trust’s third series of Forward Together podcasts is now live! As with the previous series, the focus is on how to make progress in Northern Ireland and heal its divided society. In these latest podcasts we consider some of the ideas that emerged from previous interviews – which were edited together into the book, ‘Lessons from the Troubles and the Unsettled Peace’. Unfortunately, recent events make these ideas even more relevant for urgent consideration. The first interview is with Simon Hoare MP, who is chair of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Select Committee and Conservative MP for North Dorset. Simon argues that the core challenge in Northern Ireland is finding ways to develop trust between the political parties and communities. He believes that to do that the main parties need to find some core policies and objectives that they can agree on and work back from that in terms of their approach to governing. Simon is sceptical of the role of citizens’ assemblies, believing they undermine the role of elected and representative democracy, which he argues must have at its core citizen engagement.
Eighteen podcasts and Slugger blogs were produced in the second series of the Holywell Trust’s Forward Together programme. With the completion of that programme, the Holywell Trust held a discussion on the themes considered by the series, which focused on creating a better governed society, with more integration and improved outcomes. The discussion was held as part of Good Relations Week 2020, bringing together the chief executive of the Pivotal think-tank, Ann Watt; Northern Ireland’s interim Mental Health Champion Siobhan O’Neill, who is also Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University, along with Paul Gosling, as the interviewer of the 18 experts, and Gerard Deane, chief executive of Holywell Trust. The discussion considered the lessons that can be learnt regarding governance and accountability in Northern Irish society and how to improve public services, including education. The Forward Together programme has been funded by the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant Scheme. Past podcasts can be accessed on the Holywell Trust website. A book will be published in the coming weeks, bringing together the thoughts and ideas from the first series of Forward Together interviews.
'I'm talking about a culture change in government in Northern Ireland: I mean the civil service and politicians' Evidence-based policy-making is largely absent from government in Northern Ireland, but the new Pivotal think-tank has been established to correct that, says its director Ann Watt. She was speaking in the last of the second series of Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts. The aim of Pivotal “is to help improve public policy in Northern Ireland,” says Ann. “It’s got a strong emphasis on research and evidence and on using evidence better in public policy.” The very first Pivotal report, published in November last year, made a big splash through its focus on waiting lists and waiting times in the NHS locally, stressing that numerically the Northern Ireland waiting list is more than a hundred times longer than that in England, despite England being almost 30 times’ larger in terms of population.
‘It is absolutely crazy to think that constitutional change in Ireland would happen overnight’ Consideration of Irish unity needs careful preparation, argues Seamus McGuinness, research professor at the Republic’s Economic and Social Research Institute. He suggests looking to the example of Hong Kong, where the handover of control was undertaken over a 13 year period. Seamus was talking in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast. The difference in economic performance, North and South, sits “at the centre of debate around constitutional change,” believes Seamus. “I come at it from the perspective of someone who worked as an economist in Belfast for the first 10 or 12 years of my career, and now has spent around the same amount of time looking at the issues relevant to the Irish economy. “There are a number of differences, but the central differences between the economies North and South really relate to differences in the level of productivity and the extent to which they exhibit dynamic growth and are able to respond to shocks.” Seamus explains: “There are fundamental underlying differences that drive lower productivity... The first relates to human capital – we see that levels of educational attainment in the North are really lagging other British regions and the Republic of Ireland. I have to say this, actually, was a shock to me as someone who works in the Republic and is domiciled in the North. When I looked at the data.”
’The unity conversation needs to be open, transparent, and let's keep open minds, because we need to flesh out what Irish unity would look like and what the UK union would look like’ Ian Marshall is a beef farmer, a former dairy farmer, and was president of the Ulster Farmers Union from 2014 to 2016. But more significantly he was until earlier this year a senator in Ireland’s Oireachtas – a unionist in Ireland’s second legislative chamber. A quite remarkable situation. Many observers were disappointed – as was Ian – that he was not elected back into the Seanad’s agricultural panel, nor appointed on the lists of new Taoiseach Micheál Martin or the other coalition party leaders Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan. Ian was speaking in the latest Forward Together podcast from the Holywell Trust.
EPISODE SUMMARY ‘A united Ireland that is socially liberally, tolerant, European and economically successful is attractive’ Irish unity could be an attractive option if the new nation is socially liberal, outward looking, multi-cultural, European and economically successfully, while respecting both the Irish and British cultures and traditions, believes Will Glendinning. To be economically successful it may need support from both the European Union and the United States, he adds. Will is a former chief executive of the Community Relations Council, has been an Alliance Party MLA for West Belfast and was also a member of the UDR. LISTEN ON TO HEAR THE FULL CONVERSATION WITH WILL
EPISODE SUMMARY TO FOLLOW “You can’t rely on a political culture of respect when one doesn’t actually exist” Unionists should engage in the conversation around the proposal for a Bill of Rights, recognising that it can help protect their interests and human rights, says former Progressive Unionist Party councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnstone. She was talking in the latest Forward Together podcast from the Holywell Trust. LISTEN ON FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW
EPISODE SUMMARY Colin Harvey professor of Human Rights at Queen's University, Belfast. He was talking in the latest Forward Together podcast from the Holywell Trust. The Good Friday Agreement gave people hope that there would be a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, that would safeguard citizens’ rights. And a committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly is, more than 20 years on, considering this. But what would a Bill of Rights achieve – and which ‘rights’ would be included? LISTEN ON FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW
EPISODE SUMMARY Reconciliation above all Reconciliation is the primary necessity facing Northern Ireland, believes Peter Osborne. Peter is a former chair of both the Community Relations Council and the Parades Commission. He was talking in the latest Forward Together podcast from the Holywell Trust. “I come from a perspective of looking at what reconciliation is about,” says Peter. He argues that to achieve reconciliation it is essential to correct the structures that create separation. This has led him to strongly argue for the integration of the education and housing systems. “You need to make the structural changes that created segregation and the conflict,” he says. LISTEN ON FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW
EPISODE SUMMARY ‘Politicians will argue, they will fight over it and they will come up with reasons for not dealing with the past’ It was hoped that the Patten reforms would herald a new start for policing in Northern Ireland, but, argues Denis Bradley, the PSNI remains burdened with its legacy from the old RUC. Denis is a former vice-chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and co-chair of the Consultative Group on the Past. He was talking in the latest Forward Together podcast from the Holywell Trust. Listen on for the full episode.
EPISODE SUMMARY ‘There is something seriously and fundamentally wrong’ – Northern Ireland’s housing crisis Although the shortage of housing was a major issue in the recent Irish general election, it is also a major challenge in Northern Ireland. For some reason, there is much less focus on this north of the border. PPR – the Participation and Practice of Rights – is keen to correct this, as its housing activist Marissa McMahon explained in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast. LISTEN ON FOR FULL INTERVIEW & DISCUSSION
EPISODE SUMMARY ‘My coping mechanism is talking, seeking peace and reconciliation’ Alan McBride’s personal journey is well known, but remarkable nonetheless. It was in 1993 that his wife Sharon and her father Desmond Frizzell were killed in an IRA bomb attack on the family fish shop in Belfast’s Shankill Road. But with immense dignity, Alan has since dedicated his life to reconciliation and progress, as well as campaigning on behalf of victims. He is the latest interviewee in the Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts. LISTEN ON FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW