In 2018, Glencree was awarded European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding under the PEACE IV Programme for the ‘Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue’ (LOV) project. This funding is for regional level projects that result in meaningful, purposeful and sustained contact between persons from different communities. Match-funding was provided by The Executive Office, Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The overall project goal was to create meaningful, purposeful and sustained contact between Victims/Survivors Groups (V/S Groups), and representatives of groups and individuals with differing interpretations of what happened in Northern Ireland’s past.
With an initial 4-year lifecycle, following disruption to programme activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an eight-month extension was granted to August 2022. Currently in post-project evaluation, the outcomes, group feedback and lessons learned will be used to inform Glencree's future reconciliatory / legacy work with V/S groups, and the work of other V/S groups, interest groups, academics, policymakers and practitioners in this field.
More than two decades after the signing of the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement, Northern Ireland and the border counties continued to 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 (LOV) project was designed to promote and facilitate contact between these groups, and share learnings from these dialogues on a national and International basis.
This project primarily focused 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 were examined.
A crucial aspect of this project was that the groups, along with other relevant parties, co-developed their own process and pace of engagement. They entered 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.
A crucial aspect to this project was the co-design of the process and activities by the key participant groups. Therefore, while more specific objectives were determined as the project evolved, key goals outlined at the outset included:
- 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 hard-to-reach 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 to enable learnings to be shared both by the project participants and Glencree. While protecting the confidentiality of the process and its participants, insights to 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.
While the LOV project is currently in post-project evaluation stage, throughout the 5-year lifespan:
Click on the image to view recordings of discussions held during the Symposium on 27th & 28th June 2022, Titanic Conference Centre, Belfast.
‘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.
Click on the images to view recordings the Launch of the Glencree Journal held in March 2021.
Click on the image to view the mid-term evaluation presentation by Project Researcher Joe Robinson.
Glencree was the sole implementation partner in the Addressing the Legacy of Violence through Facilitated Dialogue project.
The project was overseen by Naoimh McNamee, CEO of Glencree and a voluntary Steering Committee. Cumulatively, the project team possessed 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 was produced at regular intervals throughout the lifespan of the project.
Additionally, the project had 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.
The Project Team also included a number of part-time members:
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