The Glencree Women’s Programme

“Women’s leadership in peace can no longer be ignored; on the contrary, it should be recognised as one of the most valuable resources for peace.”

“The thinking that gives rise to armed conflict has its roots in the unequal power relationship between men and women. There is a continuum of violence, from domestic violence to violence in the political and economic spheres, which must be systematically challenged.”

(From the Preamble of the Women’s Global Action for a Culture of Peace, prepared by women peace leaders for 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace conference) There is a lack of women in positions of leadership, particularly in politics and business, in Ireland, North and South. Numerous surveys, studies and research papers detail the inequality between men and women in Ireland North and South and worldwide. The existence of the ‘glass ceiling’ for working woman has been well researched, documented and debated in Europe and the US.

Facilitating the Role of Women as Community Leaders

The Glencree Women’s Programme enhances understanding among women of the complex relationships in Ireland, north and south, and facilitates the future developments of equality, pluralism and multi-culturalism. The Programme redresses the imbalance of opportunities for women and enables women to play a positive role in the life of their communities.

The Women’s Programme enhances understanding among women towards a strong and peaceful civil society on the island of Ireland. The Programme is an all-island initiative of capacity building for women and includes community groups, women from a variety of religions and traditions, as well as women from Ireland North and South, and not only from the border region.

Glencree uses facilitation techniques that have been developed over the past 30 years of peacebuilding and reconciliation work in Ireland. The skills and knowledge are very relevant to dealing with modern demographic changes, as well as old-fashioned prejudices, and the single-minded views that often grow from isolation.

The Difference we make

Many women have taken part in the Women’s Programme and assumed a greater engagement in addressing the challenges their communities face. Glencree has facilitated these women to overcome difference and bring those from differing backgrounds together who would have otherwise been excluded. Glencree has a clear understanding of what needs to be done to ensure women are able to play a greater role as peace leaders.

Click here for a report on learnings from the Women’s Leadership Programme.

Contact: Phil Killeen,

The Political Dialogue Programme

Political Dialogue and Training Programme

INSERT PROBLEM STATEMENT Rather than scapegoating politicians for not driving the peace process forward strongly enough, Glencree appreciates the difficulties faced by politicians in finding a political way out of conflict, negotiating an accord and leading their constituencies towards peace. For this reason Glencree engages in three main activities which complements the efforts of all political stake holders in the peace process:

Political Dialogue Workshops

Since the commencement of this programme in 1994, all political parties from Ireland, North and South and the main parties from Britain have participated. Over 50 weekend residential workshops have been held. Nearly all the dialogue workshops are inclusive and multilateral attempting to bring all the parties in the conflict together over a period of time but not necessarily in each workshop. Occasionally bilateral workshops are offered when particular political relations need to be addressed. Three main ground rules operate:

  • Participants control the agenda
  • Glencree controls the process.
  • Participant’s feedback new understandings and political analysis to their party without attributing specific remarks to individuals.

Annual Summer School

The annual Glencree Summer School provides an opportunity for peace and community activists to engage with politicians on peace building issues. The event takes place at Glencree during a weekend and brings together about 16 speakers and about 40 participants.

Political skills training for community and political activists

Glencree believes that a vibrant and inclusive democratic society can best be achieved when people have the opportunity to become politically engaged. There are many political, community and former paramilitary activists who feel isolated from political processes and by offering a training programme focussing on political skills some 100 people annually are better positioned to play a positive role in political development. Themes covered in the training include, negotiation skills, public relations skills, leadership skills and developing political strategies.

Other activities in the political arena

From time to time Glencree facilitates meetings between politicians from different parties to discuss specific issues or provide support and encouragement to politicians in furthering issues related to peacebuilding.


Ex-Combatant Programme


Providing Opportunities for Dialogue

Glencree’s Ex-Combatants Programme helps consolidate the peace process by providing an inclusive forum within which current and former military and paramilitary participants can meet, exchange views, build relationships and address issues.

Glencree’s commitment to inclusivity means that in this programme we are striving to include direct participants in the armed aspects of the ‘troubles’ from a wide range of loyalist and republican ex-prisoners’ groups as well as participants from military and police backgrounds from all parts of these islands.

Since early 2003 regular bimonthly residentials are being held in which issues such as social inclusion are discussed. On a number of occasions representatives of the broader society (churches, trade unions, political parties, the business sector, the media) have fruitfully participated in discussions with and between (ex)combatants.

Following further consultations it was agreed that the programme will focus, firstly, on more in depth work with smaller numbers of participants (within a “Sustainable Peace” network). Secondly, the programme’s inclusivity will be strengthened by concentrating on groups who have been underrepresented thus far, such as members of state forces and some loyalist groupings.

Glencree Sustainable Peace Project

Developing Leaders in Sustainable Peace Building

In November 2001 Glencree took one loyalist and one republican ex-prisoner to South Africa. The visit included exposure to South Africa’s political transition and the socio-economic inequalities arising from Apartheid. A central feature was a shared wilderness experience, facilitated by the Wilderness Leadership School.

The positive results of the pilot project encouraged a similar visit in November 2002. This time the group consisted of 6 ex-combatants and 6 victims.

Following an in-depth evaluation of the programme and subsequent amendments, Glencree brought together a group of 18 participants in 2004. This group was highly diverse and inclusive on every level (gender, age, region, political/religious background, role in conflict/peace): 2 participants from Britain, a Protestant and a Catholic from the Republic of Ireland, 4 from the (North) West of Ireland, 1 from Derry, the rest evenly divided between communities in and around Belfast; 2 UVF ex-prisoners, a PIRA and 2 INLA ex-prisoners, a senior ex-RUC/PSNI officer, a senior ex-British army officer, project leaders of a republican and a unionist victims’ group, 3 cross-community victims workers, a former British Metropolitan police survivor of the Harrod’s IRA bomb, a Northern Irish Presbyterian and 2 Catholic youth/church workers, the project leader of a Belfast cross-community women’s group, the CEO from a large Irish construction company.

Aims of the Sustainable Peace Project (SPP):

  1. To promote sustainable relationships between victims/survivors, ex-combatants and members of the broader society on the islands of Ireland and Britain;
  2. To develop meaningful partnerships between participants from the global “North” and “South”;
  3. To nurture leadership in environment friendly peace building;
  4. To enhance appreciation for the roles of wilderness or nature-based activities in peace building.
  5. To provide opportunities for personal development for a core group of (potential) leaders.

Click here to view the Sustainable Peace Trail Map, a visual presentation of the journey of the Sustainable Peace Network, 2001-2008.

Contact: Wilhelm Verwoerd:

Youth and Young Adults Programme

The legacy of violence issues, sectarianism and racism remain concerns that need to be addressed in a strategic way through working with young people. Recent street protests in relation to flags and parades have seen large numbers of youths in violent confrontation with the PSNI and this is a major concern.

Shaping Future Leaders

Glencree is committed to working with young people North and South of the border as an essential element of our reconciliation work, through our Young People’s Programme especially as there is now less North-South contact than 5-10 years ago. In the 2005 NESC report, Current Provision of North South School and Youth Exchange and Cooperative Activity, the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Education (NI) paid tribute to the ‘passion, commitment and hopes’ expressed by the young participants in North/South programmes and projects.

Through our own experience and through consultation we have identified the need to build leadership potential at grassroots level among young people as one of the vital ingredients in deepening reconciliation.

Glencree has a track record in this type of work and the necessary capacity and experience to deliver high quality outputs. Participants who go through this cycle will become advocates for its continuation and be involved in recruitment of a new group thereby helping to build a network of those building peace.

The Difference we make

Through engagement in the programme, young people develop new relationships across communities in NI and North-South that will allow people to continue to work together and bring new participants in to future projects.

There will also be a multiplier effect through the gradual extension of a network of young people committed to reconciliation.

New leadership skills will also start to emerge amongst participants.