Displaying episodes 61 - 77 of 77 in total
‘Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past! (But we are.)’ Northern Ireland is “a society that is still emerging from conflict”, warns Conal McFeely, chief executive of one of Northern Ireland’s largest and most successful not-for-profit businesses, the Rathmor Centre[i] in Derry. He was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “We must collectively not allow ourselves to make the same political mistakes - and the failure of governance - that we've done in the past,” Conal says, before adding “but sadly I believe that we are at the moment”.
‘We have lost ground in the past 20 years’, claims PUP’s John Kyle Society in Northern Ireland has gone backwards since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, argues the former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party John Kyle, who is also a GP in Belfast. “In my view we have lost ground in the past 20 years,” he says in the latest Forward Together podcast. John believes that we need to review the progress that was achieved and consider why it has lost momentum. He suggests three factors enabled the conflict to end. “The first important element was that violence was a flawed strategy and it didn't achieve its ends,” he reflects.
‘If we tell people the cost of segregation, they will support greater integration’ If people are told the financial cost of segregation and service duplication, there will be much greater support for social integration, says community worker Maureen Hetherington. Maureen is director of The Junction community and peace-building centre in Derry-Londonderry and was interviewed in the latest ‘Forward Together’ podcast. “I have no doubt that integrated education is absolutely fundamental to getting people to know each other, to engage with each other,” stresses Maureen. “The difficulty there is that we don't have the integrated society. So we absolutely need to start the social housing, that has to be cross-community and it has to be mixed. We could highlight the cost of segregation. “When we get down to the bread and butter issues, the majority of people out there want the best for the children, their family, they want to keep surviving, they want a quality of life. This cost of segregation, if people realise, if we look at that and redistribute the money to where it is really needed, then I think that people would be up for a more integrated society. The majority of people do want change. They do want a better future. But it's taking that leap of faith, but also taking the steps towards that... exposing the segregation for what it is - the systems and structures that keep people separated - and finding ways of bringing them together.” Maureen believes that the other key element of integrating society is for people to live in genuinely shared communities.
‘Citizen’s Assembly could help progress with health reform’ The adoption of a citizens’ assembly could assist with making progress with reform of the health service in Northern Ireland, says Simon Hamilton – a DUP MLA and former health and finance minister. He was interviewed in the latest ‘Forward Together’ podcast. Speaking about the use of citizens’ assemblies in the Republic of Ireland, Simon explains: “They shouldn't be dismissed instantly just because you didn't like what some other jurisdiction was doing with them.” He adds: “I know from my time in the health department that there are a range of issues where you think you know the answer. But executing them in a way in which the public understand, get it and get on board with it is a different matter entirely.” For example with health reform, where service provision might be moved or merged to improve quality and outcomes, yet the public will perceive that they have lost a local service.
There needs to be an all-island, integrated, health service, and its creation should not be dependent upon the agreement or timing of a united Ireland, argues Professor Jim Dornan – one of the architects of existing cross-border co-operation in health services. Jim was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “In many ways Ireland is a Goldilocks sized country for health provision,” he explains. “We can cherry pick the best of health provision throughout the world and let's introduce it to Ireland. The health service is a wonderful concept.” But to protect NHS-type health service provision, it is important for individuals and society collectively to accept more responsibility for their own good health, argues Jim. For more on this listen on.
Justice for victims is achieved by “giving them a society that works”, says Fergus O'Dowd TD of Fine Gael. He is a member of the Oireachtas Good Friday Implementation Committee and was appointed earlier this year by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to lead a new Fine Gael group to develop links with Northern Ireland. He is interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast.
More must be done in Northern Ireland to make society more open for women and for minorities, argues Alexandra De La Torre, the co-ordinator for NICVA of the Next Chapter, which has the objective of strengthening women's engagement in civic society and participation in society. Alexandra is interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “I think it is fundamental for civil society to create spaces where there is room for everyone,” she says. “Spaces that are inclusive for women, inclusive for minorities, inclusive for people with disabilities or sexual orientation. But it is also fundamental to put away the resources to access these opportunities. Civil society in Northern Ireland played a fundamental role in peace-building. I see at the moment the challenges that Brexit is bringing to Northern Ireland, which are going to be huge and civil society will have its own fundamental role to play in this.” For more listen to the full episode.
Northern Ireland has “had a political process at the cost of a peace process”, believes Clare Bailey MLA, the leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland. She is highly critical of the limited progress since the Good Friday Agreement 21 years ago and the lack of real social integration. She was speaking in the latest Forward Together podcast. Clare goes on to talk about the civic voice in Northern Ireland and the challenges of sectarianism and addressing climate change.
Citizens’ assemblies should be widely used to address the problems faced by communities across Northern Ireland, argues Peter Sheridan, the chief executive of Co-operation Ireland. He was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “It works in Canada, it works in Iceland: there are examples all around the world.” Speaking before the murder of Lyra McKee, Peter continues: “You pick an area and pick a problem, you randomly select a group of people from the electoral register and depending on the size of the problem it could be 30, 40, 50, 60 people. So it could be an area the size of Creggan on the west bank of the Foyle. You identify a particular problem. So let's take as an example that may be in an area, how do we stop young people joining paramilitaries? And you bring in expert opinion – who might say well, for example, in Colombia here's how they went about stopping young people joining groups.” Hear more from Peter on this and other issues, including rights and dealing with the past in this Forward Together Podcast episode.
Developing mutual respect, strengthening relationships and building proper political leadership are the basis for making progress in Northern Ireland, believes independent unionist MLA – and former justice minister - Claire Sugden. She is interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. Talking before the announcement of renewed political talks, Claire expressed her frustration at the lack of a functioning Assembly and Executive. “We've had a situation here at Stormont where we haven't had a sitting assembly for two years. And I think the anger amongst the general public is palpable. You know I feel it and see it every day. I'm a great believer that leadership is about bringing people with you. And I don't think politics is doing that right now." Listen to the whole of the interview with Claire to get a greater insight into her views on this and other issues.
A leadership vacuum is causing harm across Northern Ireland, including in loyalist areas, and contributes to the lure of paramilitaries, warns victims’ campaigner Alan McBride in the latest Forward Together podcast. “I think we probably need to put a lot of investment into areas like East Belfast and the Shankill and other areas to try and improve the leadership potential,” he argues. Alan adds: “As a grassroots working class Protestant loyalist myself, I have a real feel for that community. I don't always think that they're best served by the sort of spokespeople that they put forward at this moment. So I would like to see other voices - voices that perhaps we haven't heard yet.” Listen to an insightful interview with Alan that takes a positive look at challenges facing Northern Ireland society.
The Eames-Bradley report was the best approach yet to how Northern Ireland should deal with Troubles legacy issues, argues Mark Durkan. The former SDLP leader and deputy first minister was interviewed for the ‘Forward Together’ podcast series immediately before declaring his candidacy for Fine Gael for the Dublin constituency in the European Parliament elections. Mark argues that the proposals tabled for the 2013 talks mediated by US envoy Richard Haass were “not as good as Eames-Bradley”. The challenge is also that “different parties are saying different things at different times”, making solutions more difficult. For example, “some parties... say draw a line under the past... and then in the next breath they're demanding pursuit of certain issues”.
Linda Ervine is a community worker in loyalist east Belfast, who is also an Irish language activist. Her classes have attracted literally hundreds of people to study Irish at the Skainos Centre on Newtownards Road – proof that Northern Ireland must not be seen merely as a narrow concept of two communities. “We've got to reach across the divide,” says Linda in the latest of the ‘Forward Together’ podcast interviews. “Sadly 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement we are still very much a divided community.” Interviewed before the Lyra McKee killing she says: “There's been a change in narrative. We have become less sectarian in words about religion and become more sectarian... in politics.” The challenge now, she argues is “to educate young people to realize that because somebody disagrees with you it doesn't make them a monster”. People are entitled to have different points of view and expressing those should not undo the peace process. N.B. Apologies for the reduced sound quality of the interview with Linda.
Episode 4 of the Forward Together Podcast features a conversation with Senator Frances Black. Frances is an independent senator in Ireland’s Oireachtas and a member of its Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee. She has family roots in Rathlin Island and a strong commitment to addressing mental health challenges. She believes that while mental health was damaged in Northern Ireland – or the six counties in her words – many of the issues are common throughout the island of Ireland. “We know the suicide rates are huge in certain areas in the north, but we also know that the suicide rates in Cork are huge.”
In this episode of Forward Together Avila Kilmurray – a co-founder of the Women’s Coalition – argues that civic society organisations have been undervalued. She argues “civil society in many ways was the backbone of society in the 70s, 80s, 90s”, but that the strength of that experience is being drained away. Avila suggests that the lack of trust placed today by politicians in civil society is in fact a reflection of their lack of self-confidence.
The second Forward Together Podcast features an interview with Mike Nesbitt MLA. The aim of the Forward Together podcasts is to promote a wider, more inclusive and engaged conversation about how we make progress and further solidify peace and create a genuinely shared and integrated society. We want that discussion to be mutually respectful, to be forward focused and positive. It considers the real challenges our society faces in the coming years.
The first of the Forward Together Podcast episodes featuring an interview with Bishop Keen Good, Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe (a cross-border diocese). The aim of the Forward Together podcasts is to promote a wider, more inclusive and engaged conversation about how we make progress and further solidify peace and create a genuinely shared and integrated society. We want that discussion to be mutually respectful, to be forward focused and positive. It considers the real challenges our society faces in the coming years.