“Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue”

Project Summary

The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation has been awarded European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding under the PEACE IV Programme for the ‘Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue Project’. This funding is for regional level projects that result in meaningful, purposeful and sustained contact between persons from different communities.

The project will be focused around, but not limited to, the experiences of four victims/survivors groups and their communities in Northern Ireland. It will, through a process of private and confidential facilitated dialogues, examine themes and issues which remain as obstacles to deeper understanding and the promotion of positive relations.

Several key groups along with other relevant parties will co-develop their own process and pace of engagement, entering dialogue with groups and individuals with differing interpretations of what happened in the past. This may include, if appropriate, those perceived to have contributed to causing harm. The learning accrued through the project is expected to be of assistance to other victims/survivors groups, other interest groups, academics, policymakers and practitioners in ascertaining how to productively engage with Northern Ireland’s contentious past.

The Context

Nearly 20 years on from the signing of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, Northern Ireland and the border counties remained deeply divided along communal lines. One driver of this is that the Agreement and other subsequent political efforts have proven unable to adequately address the legacy of past violence. This deficit is most acutely felt in the divisive relationship between ‘victims and survivors’ groups and the individuals, groups, and institutions perceived to have inflicted harm upon them in the past. This project will promote and facilitate this contact, and share the learning accrued from this project with a variety of stakeholders. 

This will be achieved through a facilitated dialogue approach resulting in meaningful, purposeful, and sustained contacts between people of different communities. 

Project Aims

The overall project goal is to create meaningful, purposeful and sustained contact between victims/survivors groups and representatives of groups and individuals with differing interpretations of what happened in the past. This will include, if appropriate, those perceived to have contributed to causing harm.

A crucial aspect to this project is the co-design of the process and activities with the key participant groups. Therefore more specific objectives will be determined as the project evolves and are likely to change. However we expect the following:

Increased profile of women and women’s stories within a legacy context:

  • Increased ability for women to articulate gender-specific aspects of past violence, an increase in women’s formal and informal leadership roles, and an increased ability for all participants to hear and acknowledge women’s stories, experiences, and perspectives.

Increased confidence within victims/survivors groups:

  • Increased confidence to engage with existing legacy structures, to engage with individuals and groups from across communal and geographical divides, and in their own ability to advocate for meaningful change.

Shared learning:

  • Fora created for project participants and Glencree to communicate insights gained throughout the project across the eligible area and internationally while protecting the confidentiality of the process and its participants. 

Proposed Project Activities

A crucial aspect to this project is the co-design of the process and activities with the key participant groups. Therefore the proposed activities could change. However the plan is to do the following:

  • 16 Residential Dialogue Workshops involving victims/survivors groups with representatives of groups and individuals with differing interpretations of what happened in the past. This will include, if appropriate, those perceived to have contributed to causing harm.
  • 4 women led residential dialogue workshops focusing on empowering women within legacy contexts to help better bring to the fore gender specific aspects of past violence.
  • 3 roundtable sessions inviting policymakers, academics and practitioners to engage and learn from project participants. This will very likely be held under the Chatham House Rule.
  • 1 larger symposium for approximately 150 interested parties.
  • We will additionally produce a number of briefing papers, a mid-term and final evaluation and impact assessment and submit two peer-reviewed articles for publication.

The Project Team

Glencree is the sole implementation partner in this project. The project consists of a project team overseen by Glencree’s CEO and a voluntary Advisory Group. Cumulatively, the project team possess extensive expertise in the fields of peacebuilding, conflict resolution, facilitated dialogue in a cross-community and cross-border context, project management, project administration, evaluation, and communications.

The project is monitored and evaluated by a highly qualified researcher within the project team. The project team will produce extensive monitoring and evaluation material at regular intervals throughout the lifespan of the project.

The project additionally has a built-in exit strategy to ensure that the project and programme goals can be sustained even in the absence of direct European funding.

Project Manager: Roisin McGlone

Assistant Project Manager / Facilitator: Caitlin Lewis

Project Administrator: Catherine McGrath

Networking and Outreach Services: Pat Hynes

Project Facilitator: Will Devas

Project Facilitator: Michael Donnelly

Project Researcher: Joe Robinson