The 4th Annual Una O’Higgins O’Malley Lecture will explore the concept of Irish and British identities across the two islands of Ireland and Great Britain.
The dynamic of the Irish-British relationship is unique and in contrast to Britain’s relationship with other countries, including territories of the former empire. Yet, while the geography of these two islands remains constant, time and history brings constant change.
The arc of electricity that flowed between Dublin and London from the 1990s was the power that drove the peace process. Only when Dublin and London came together did the two respective communities within Northern Ireland begin to feel an energy that would improve the political atmosphere and ultimately lead to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement that drew a line under 30 years of violent upheaval and bloodshed.
Today, the profound and deep swathe cut by Brexit contrasts sharply with the shoulder-to-shoulder relationship shared during the Peace Process. With the EU determining the nature and interest of negotiations around the Single Market and seeking to strike a balance between the two communities in Northern Ireland who continue to live in what we know as contested space, our agency to re-build these fractured relations is reduced.
Meanwhile, with the fixed geography of these two neighbouring islands, comes the reality of a shared space that includes a significant Irish community on the island of Great Britain and a significant British identity on the island of Ireland.
In this lecture, Lord Gavin Barwell will give the keynote address on the topic of Irish-British Relations and how we progress through the challenge of Brexit. This will be followed by a panel discussion on the post-Brexit relationship between Ireland and Britain and how these two small islands can become a safe and secure place for all identities to exist within, despite, and beyond the challenges of Brexit.