Strengthening Democracy & Reconciliation through Ethical & Respectful Political Discourse


25/1/22: Speakers from the EU, US and UK joined an international webinar co-hosted by the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation and the John & Pat Hume Foundation to explore how democracy and the conditions for reconciliation can be strengthened through ethical and respectful political discourse. The webinar addressed:

  • How critical is ethical and respectful political discourse to the future of democracy? To the future of Europe? To building reconciliation locally and globally?
  • What policy and regulatory frameworks and what policy initiatives and networks support more ethical and respectful political discourse?
  • How can ethical and respectful political discourse be the norm and what role do political parties, civil society and the media have in this regard?

Event Speakers:

  • Colin Scicluna, Head of Cabinet, VP Democracy & Demography, European Commission on behalf of Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography (click link to view keynote address >)
  • Timothy J. Shaffer, Associate Professor, Kansas State University and Director,  National Institute for Civil Discourse
  • Su Moore, Chief Executive, Jo Cox Foundation
  • Moderator: Tony Connelly, RTE Europe Correspondent
  • Opening Remarks: Barbara Walshe, Chair, Glencree
  • Closing Remarks: Sean Farren, Chair of John & Pat Hume Foundation


Playback a recording of the Webinar by clicking on the link below:

Speaker Quotes: 

Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography said:

The need for ethical and respectful political discourse concerns us all. Respectful discourse knows no borders, has no political party affiliation and is intergenerational. Responsibility for a lasting, ethical and respectful political discourse lies with each one of us.

If we want to leave a democracy to future generations that is worthy of the name, then ethical and respectful discourse must lie at the heart of this ambition.

For John Hume, difference is, and I quote “the essence of humanity. The answer to difference is to respect it”. This, he said, was the fundamental principle of peace. I agree. I believe that the respect of difference is a fundamental principle of democracy.

Su Moore, Chief Executive, Jo Cox Foundation said:

Addressing the intimidatory and abusive culture in political discourse matters. It matters for the diversity of our public life, it matters for the way in which the public can engage with representative democracy, and it matters for the safety and emotional wellbeing of the people it affects. A healthy, functioning democracy that values respectful and compassionate debate is not just a recognition of everything Jo Cox believed in, it is essential to all our futures.

Professor Timothy J. Shaffer, Director, Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy said:

Civil discourse isn’t an abandonment of challenging or divisive issues. It’s actually a way for us to have deep disagreements but be together at the table.” Civil society requires some modicum of civility. We need politics. Otherwise, we simply turn to violence. What should you and I do as citizens? To answer that question, we need to be able to engage in political discourse that allows us to wrestle with policies and not simply attack one another.

Barbara Walshe, Chair,  Glencree Centre for  Peace and Reconciliation said:

Democratic life suffers if we increasingly gravitate to people who share our views alone and to media representations that present us with ‘the offensive other side’, we need ongoing dialogue.

Sean Farren, Chair of John & Pat Hume Foundation said:

We are delighted to jointly host this international webinar with Glencree Centre for  Peace and Reconciliation. There is an urgent need to promote civility in politics where differences are respected, where ethical and civil dialogue is embraced and where efforts are focused on working together to enhance and better serve democracy, diversity and political decision-making.


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