Peace Initiative Conference Goes Behind the Steel Shutter Fifty Years On
01/12/22: The Steel Shutter Revisited Conference at the Europa Hotel in Belfast revisited and re-examined a remarkable peace initiative from fifty years ago. The ground-breaking encounter culminated in the iconic film “The Steel Shutter,” a fly-on-the wall documentary engaging nine people of experience of living in Belfast with people from both communities and different economic backgrounds, who travelled to Pittsburgh for a face-to-face encounter that was filmed over three days. The Steel Shutter Revisited Conference paid homage to the original project and explored the themes developed from the film and took forward learnings for those working in this area five decades later.
The conference was hosted by the engaging Noel Thompson, formerly of BBC’s ‘Spotlight’ and was attended by representatives from education, health, housing and local government and heard presentations from leading figures working locally, nationally and internationally in the areas of peace, reconciliation, and conflict resolution. Key speakers included Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation’s CEO Naoimh McNamee; Northern Irish Peace Process facilitator and mediator Geoffrey Corry; founder of The Forgiveness Project Marina Cantacuzino; artist Jesse Presley Jones; author & peacemaker Tony Macaulay, innovator, researcher, documentary filmmaker, Research Dean & Professor of Documentary Practices at the London College of Communication Pratap Rughani; psychotherapist & researcher Dr Michl Weiss; psychotherapist Robert Barry and organiser and psychotherapist Peace Fire’s Dr Michael R Montgomery.
Boston based Dr Michael Montgomery, founder of the organization Peace Fire, who convened the conference said: "These sorts of exploratory discussions are commonplace now, but at the time, “The Steel Shutter” was unique, surprising, and ground-breaking. Half a century later, many of the themes remain with the raw emotion, grief, and pain depicted in the film still deeply felt today.
“It is through investing in human relationships and constructive respectful discourse, mediation, education and negotiation skills that we will give our young people the tools to build on the work that has been done and sacrifices that have been made, which will help guide us safely into the next chapter,” said Glencree CEO Naoimh McNamee, one of the key speakers at the conference. “We have to continue to find ways to humanise relationships between individuals and communities through dialogue. In the process, we stress that our challenges today are political, and not politically violent, in character. It is only 25 years on our island since the guns fell silent. We must be vigilant and mindful that history can repeat itself if the conditions are created, where people feel they have no option to achieve political change through dialogue and diplomacy.”
Dr Michael Montgomery added: “This event has been a timely reminder that we have a lack of generosity in peacebuilding and politics and that we need such things as forgiveness, ethics, generosity and creativity in the very messy work of reconciliation.”
The Peace Fire organisation aims to bring together those who seek peace and reconciliation through a trauma-informed lens, developed through international practice, experience and research across diverse cultures and populations.
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GLENCREE MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Ringrose Fitzsimons | 086 3771020 | Valerie.firstname.lastname@example.org
PEACE FIRE / THE STEEL SHUTTER REVISITED MEDIA CONTACT: Maria McCann (she/her) | McCann Public Relations | +44 (0)2890 666322 | +44 (0)7802 934246