Speakers from across Britain and Ireland will attend a symposium on Friday, 19 April (tomorrow) at the University of Ulster to debate the legacy of the Good Friday Agreement / Belfast Agreement in a special symposium marking the fifteenth anniversary of the historic peace accord.
The event, organised in collaboration with NUI Galway and the Political Studies Association of Ireland, will bring together some of the academics who played crucial roles as special advisors and negotiators to reflect on the negotiations that produced the Agreement, including:
- Professor Lord Bew (Advisor to David Trimble);
- Professor Monica McWilliams (Founding member of the Women’s Coalition); and
- Dr Martin Mansergh (Advisor to the Irish Government).
Dr Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at University of Ulster and one of the organisers of the event, said: “The key aim of the conference is to generate discussion and provide an opportunity for an exchange and it will incorporate the views of established academics and new researchers.”
Co-organiser Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh of NUI Galway, said: “The Agreement reorganised political structures within Northern Ireland but it also reordered relationships between the two jurisdictions in Ireland and between Ireland and Britain and was shaped by significant European and international involvement. The symposium pays particular attention to these multiple and interrelated contexts for political change.”
Speakers will debate a number of issues at the event such as
- The changing political dynamics that set the scene for the talks process, including international influences (Professor Adrian Guelke, Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Etain Tannum, Trinity College Dublin ) and changing relationships on the island of Ireland (Professor John Coakley and Professor Jennifer Todd, University College Dublin);
- The implementation of the Agreement, including migrant experiences (Patrick Wu, Northern Ireland Centre for Ethnic Minorities) and the impact on the peace process by cultural change (Dr Eamonn Hughes, Queen’s University), on loyalists (Professor Jim McAuley, Huddersfield) and on dissident republicans (Professor Jonathan Tonge, Liverpool University);
- The unresolved past, including the possibilities for truth recovery (Professor Kieran McEvoy, Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Henry Patterson, University of Ulster) and the continuing force of historical memory (Dr Brian Feeney, St Mary’s College Belfast and Dr Ian McBride, Kings College London).
The all-day symposium, which will take place at the University’s Belfast Campus, is a joint event of the Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS) at the University of Ulster, the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway and the Peace and Conflict specialist group of the Political Studies Association of Ireland.