Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue Project


More than two decades since the signing of the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement, Northern Ireland and the border counties remain deeply divided along communal lines. A contributing factor to this divide is the inadequacy of the Agreement and subsequent political efforts to address the legacy of past violence. The 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. The Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue project is designed to promote and facilitate contact between these groups, and share learnings from these dialogues on a national and International basis. 


Project Summary

This project primarily focuses on the experiences of victims/survivors groups and their communities in Northern Ireland. Through a process of private and confidential facilitated dialogues, and promoting sustained contact across divides, the themes and issues that remain as obstacles to deeper understanding and the promotion of positive relations are examined.

A crucial aspect of this project is that the groups, along with other relevant parties, co-develop their own process and pace of engagement. They enter dialogue with groups and individuals with differing interpretations of what happened in the past including, as appropriate, those perceived to have contributed to causing harm. The learning accrued through this project is expected to be of assistance to ‘Victims and Survivors’ groups, other interest groups, academics, policymakers, and practitioners in ascertaining how to productively engage with Northern Ireland’s contentious past.


Project Aims

A crucial aspect to this project is the co-design of the process and activities by 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 outcomes:

- Increased profile of women and women’s stories within a legacy context: the 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 Victim/Survivor groups: the increased confidence to engage with existing legacy structures, and with individuals and groups from across communal and geographical divides; the increased confidence in their own ability to advocate for meaningful change.

- Shared learning: the development of fora to facilitate difficult conversations between individuals, groups, communities and constituencies enables learnings to be shared both by the project participants and Glencree. While protecting the confidentiality of the process and its participants, insights can be shared nationally and internationally in areas that are undergoing a peace process and post-conflict phase, among other victims / survivors groups, interest groups, academics, policymakers and practitioners.


Project Activities

  • Residential Dialogue Workshops with victim / survivor groups and representatives of groups and individuals with differing interpretations of what happened in Northern Ireland’s past. This will include, if appropriate, those perceived to have contributed to causing harm
  • Women-led Residential Dialogue Workshops focused on empowering women within legacy contexts to address gender specific aspects of past violence. Click on this link for an example of this work.
  • Sessions (largely held under the Chatham House Rules) providing policymakers, academics, and practitioners with the opportunity to engage and learn from project participants. Click on this link for a discussion of some of this work.
  • A Symposium accommodating the broader audience of stakeholders, held in Summer 2022. Click on this link for more information.
  • Briefing papers, a Mid-Term Report (see Resources section below) and Final Evaluation & Impact Assessment.
  • A one-day Conference, in the form of an Online Webinar due to Covid-19 restrictions, hosted in conjunction with the Irish Centre for Human Rights at National University of Ireland, Galway and Ulster University to explore political, social, and cultural developments in contemporary Northern Ireland post the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement of 1998. Details of this event are available here.
  • This online Webinar also marked the launch of the Glencree Journal, in collaboration with the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway and Ulster University, entitled 'Addressing the Legacy of Inter-Communal Violence through Facilitated Dialogue' with contributions from academics and practitioners in the field of peace studies and conflict resolution. View/download the Glencree Journal (.pdf) here.

Project Update

    Through our engagement with the Victims & Survivors (VS) Groups involved in the project, several key findings have come to the fore:

    1. Information and dialogue are key to strengthening the capacity of people affected by conflict to engage in addressing violence.

    2. The capacity and knowledge of civil society can provide people with the tools and resources they need to avoid a reoccurrence of violence. These tools and resources include conflict analysis and mapping; community cohesion programmes; monitoring and protection activities; participatory tools to focus on the meaningful inclusion of women; methods to analyse how to change attitudes and behaviours; and how to engage through cultural activities.

    3. The point at which violent conflict ends is potentially a transformative moment. As such, it provides an opportunity to embed changes in society, such as strengthening gender justice.

    4. The pursuit of justice in conflict transformation does not automatically lead to democratisation or indeed ‘closure.’

    These initial findings from our engagement with the VS Groups is now the subject of deeper analysis under the project so that the learning outcomes can be used as a framework to avoid future conflict.


Glencree Journal - ‘Dealing with the Legacy of Conflict in Northern Ireland through engagement and Dialogue’

‘Dealing with the Legacy of Conflict in Northern Ireland through engagement and Dialogue’, the Glencree Journal in conjunction with the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway and Ulster University, features contributions from 19 academics and practitioners in the fields of peace studies and conflict resolution from around the world. Bringing a keen focus to many of the issues that are intrinsic to the Peace IV Project, both individually and collectively the essays featured in this Journal will also help to inform practitioners in a wide variety of fields of future pathways to sustaining a just and equitable society in a post-conflict situation.

"... tells a very important part of the Northern Ireland peace process …. essays touch on critical issues …. an incredibly rich resource”, said Professor Brandon Hamber, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace based at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at Ulster University, at the launch of the Journal.

Glencree Journal - Launch Webinar

Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue - Mid-Term Evaluation, December 2017 - December 2019


The Project Team

Glencree is the sole implementation partner in the Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue project.

The project is overseen by Naoimh McNamee, CEO of Glencree and a voluntary Steering Committee. 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. Monitored and evaluated by a researcher working within the project team, extensive monitoring and evaluation material will be produced at regular intervals throughout the lifespan of the project.

Additionally, the project has a built-in an 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: Michelle Kearns

The Project Team also includes a number of part-time members:

  • Lead Researcher, Michelle Kearns
  • Freelance Facilitators: Michael Donnelly, Will Devas, Cate Turner

A project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The grant provided by the Peace Programme is up to €1,237.627.90 (ERDF and Government Match Funding) for the period- September 2017 – August 2022.

To find out more about SEUPB, please click on this link SEUPB

Roisin McGlone

Programme Manager

Roisin joined Glencree as Programme Manager for the ERDF funded PEACE IV Programme for the ‘Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue’ project. Born in Belfast, Roisin has been involved with conflict transformation programs in Croatia, Macedonia, Guyana, America and South Africa. She was one of two Community Relations nominees on the Civic Forum. She was an Assistant Boundary Commissioner for Belfast and an Independent member of The Northern Ireland Policing board as well as a board member of the NI Community Relations Council. Roisin graduated with a Masters in Philosophy in Reconciliation Studies with the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin.

Michelle Kearns

Assistant Programme Manager / Researcher

Michelle joined the PEACE IV, ‘Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue’ project at Glencree as Project Researcher in January 2021. She subsequently assumed the dual role as Assistant Programme Manager / Researcher in May 2021. Prior to joining Glencree, Michelle worked in Sierra Leone with both the International Rescue Committee leading on Research, Evaluation and Learning, and with Concern Worldwide/University College Dublin. With extensive research experience internationally and in post-conflict settings including West Africa, Nepal, South Africa, Australia and Europe, Michelle’s work has covered a broad range of topics from trauma, mental health, and gender-based violence, to identity, group dynamics, and community dialogue. Michelle has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Limerick, where she collaborated with Pieta House (Centre for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm) on an Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership. She also holds an MSc in Social and Health Psychology from Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and a BA in Psychology and Geography from NUI, Galway.
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