Aspects of Sectarian Division in Derry Londonderry - Concluding remarks
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The aim of these public discussions was to provide an opportunity,
in the context of the period immediately after the cease-fires,
for dialogue about sectarian division to take place across the
sectarian divide. whilst violence was ongoing, such dialogue was
difficult to arrange and in many instances impossible. In the
immediate aftermath of the cease-fires, there was a new willingness
to take risks, and an eagerness to begin designing a future in
which dialogue was part of normal life. The process of dialogue
between those of differing experiences and views is central to
this. Six months after the last public discussion organised by
Templegrove Action Research, the post cease-fire dynamic and the
new prospects glimpsed upon were dulling over, and nine months
later, at the time of writing, the IRA cease-fire is over, and
the prospects for political progress seem at best confusing and
at worst remote. During the course of the public meetings, we
became aware of the frustration people had about their political
leaders and their anxiety to see serious engagement and debate
on what they perceived to be the crucial issues. In the wake of
the meetings, we are aware of ongoing debates, in public and in
private, which continue on some of these topics. We hope that
our meetings contributed positively towards creating and maintaining
a culture of dialogue on issues of sectarian division in this
On a practical level, organising a series of public discussions
which seek to engage with both communities presented a particular
set of difficulties in a segregated city. The politics of sectarian
and class division mean that public space is often contested,
and territory is rarely neutral. Finding a public venue in which
a range of people from different political and class backgrounds
could meet was difficult. The selection of topics for discussion
also called for careful thought, since certain issues can be
perceived as a part of an agenda which is owned by one community
or the other. In both the selection and presentation of issues,
an attempt was made to engage both the Protestant/unionist community
and the Catholic/nationalist community. We also attempted to be
inclusive of a range of social classes, by utilising existing
information networks in working class communities and by incorporating
people from these communities into the facilitation of discussions
at the meetings, and by facilitating discussion in ways which
included voices that tend to be marginalised. A further dimension
to the facilitation of the discussions was to allow and facilitate
a diversity of views within communities as well as between communities.
The way in which issues such as the retreat of the Protestant
community and the 'greening' of our cities, the economic reconstruction
of nationalist areas, the effects of violence or the future of
loyalism were discussed, within a public and open space, has
demonstrated participants' resolve to engage with the issues
which have divided this city and wider Northern Irish society
for the past twenty five years and longer. This publication records
individual positions and the level of debate and politicisation
of people in communities in the North West. With the participation
of elected representatives, community workers, other professionals,
such as, teachers and people from the working class and unemployed
sections of community, it is hoped that the awareness from the
discussions will feed back into existing political networks, and
we have had some evidence that this is beginning to happen. These
public discussions have engaged individuals from both communities
in creating a new arena of political debate in an open public
and civic space, free from the constraints of party politics.
This series of public discussions may have come to an end but
we hope that the dialogue which started during them has not. There
continues to be a need for other open and public spaces in which
these public conversations may continue and from which new relationships
The participation of people from the two historically divided communities reflects the
breadth and the depth of the conflict, the macro and the micro
issues, such as the need for an overall political settlement
and resolutions to local inter-community conflicts, which have
a very direct impact on the lives of people in the North West.
The contributions of Jackie Redpath and Gerry Doherty highlight
how one community's needs impact on the 'other' community and
this inter-dependence is also present in the North West. The creation
of the conditions in which both communities can give voice to
their situations outside of the historically drawn confines is
crucial. Then real goals can be set and work begun. Healthy and
honest inter-community relationships will be created from the
readiness of both communities to speak the truth, to listen and
to recognise differences as well as commonalities. The inter-relationship
of both communities, and the beginnings of an exploration of
their potential relationships to one another are in evidence in
the records of these meetings in Derry Londonderry. This publication
stands in part as testimony to a thirst for dialogue and progress.
It is from the practice of dialogue that our ability to re-imagine
and re-create ourselves will flow. We can only hope that the political
space to continue such work will not disappear.
Biographical Notes on Speakers
Brian Lacey, studied Celtic Archaeology and Early Irish
History at University College Dublin and as an archaeologist and
historian he has directed a series of excavations in Derry. He
edited the Archaeological Survey of County Donegal (1983) and
his publications include Historic Derry (1988), The Siege of Derry
(1989) and Siege City - 'The Story of Derry and Londonderry' (1990).
An occasional radio and television broadcaster, he currently heads
Derry City Council's Museum Service.
Dr. Brendan Murtagh, studied Geography and Town Planning
at The Queen's University of Belfast. He worked as a town planner
on a wide range of urban regeneration, housing and rural development
strategies. He joined the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as
Senior Economist in 1989 and since 1993 has worked for the Housing
Research Centre at the University of Ulster. His main research
interests are on housing, planning and ethnic division, and in
1991 completed a major research project on Belfast Peacelines
for the Central Community Relations Unit. Dr. Murtagh is currently
engaged on research on rural segregation for CCRU, and on planning
policy and division in Northern Ireland for the Community Relations
Council and he is evaluating the European Union's Special Programme
for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland for the Department
of Finance and Personnel.
Marie Smyth, is on the academic staff of the University
of Ulster and is currently seconded full-time to research aspects
of segregation as Project Director of Templegrove Action Research.
She also teaches at Smith College, Massachusetts. She has worked
in community development in Belfast in the 1970's and early 1980's
and in psychotherapic work in Northern Ireland and in United States.
Her other current research involvements involve her in researching
the personal effects of the troubles on people in Northern Ireland.
David Holloway, studied Archaeology and was awarded a doctorate
in Social Anthropology by The Queen's University of Belfast in
1993. He has worked as an archaeologist throughout the province
and as a History Development Officer, initiating local history
and other development programmes in working class communities
in South Belfast. He has conducted research in the working class
communities of Belfast on issues of culture, identity and conflict,
and on the nature of loyalism in Northern Ireland. He has written
several pieces on Northern Irish cultural identity. He is currently
employed as a Community Relations Officer for Projects Portadown
Limited, working on a series of community and cross community
development initiatives in the Portadown area.
Jackie Redpath, has been Director of the Greater Shankill
Development Agency since 1989. He is presently seconded to the
greater Shankill Partnership Company Limited. He has led a team
which developed a Regeneration Strategy for the Greater Shankill
Area, leading to the establishment of Belfast's first local partnership.
A graduate of The Queen's University of Belfast, he has been a
community worker in the Shankill area for over 20 years. He worked
during the 1970's for the Shankill Community Council, the Shankill
Education Workshop and co-ordinated the Save the Shankill Campaign.
In 1980 he published and edited the Shankill Bulletin, a local
community newspaper. Jackie has been involved in a wide range
of local initiatives over the years including the establishment
of local housing associations and youth workshops. He was also
a founder member of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing
Associations, Shelter (Northern Ireland) and the Northern Ireland
Gerry Doherty, studied Sociology at Leeds University and
attained a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work from The
University of Ulster, Magee College and a Diploma in Marketing
from The University of Ulster at Jordanstown. He has been involved
in community development for the past nine years, six of which
have been spent working in the Lenadoon area of West Belfast.
He was prominent in setting up - and now works for - the Lenadoon
Community Forum, an umbrella body of twenty locally based community
groups which have developed a strategic framework for the regeneration
of Lenadoon, a disadvantaged area. He is currently actively involved
with two key co-ordinating bodies which operate in West Belfast,
- Clar Nua which has developed a Policy Framework for Reconstruction,
and the West Belfast Economic Forum.
Andrew Hamilton, graduated from the New University of Ulster
and has been employed as a Lecturer in Social Administration and
Policy at the University of Ulster since 1985. His main teaching
interests are in European Social Policy and Community Conflict.
His main research interest is in the Northern Ireland conflict.
He has directed two major research projects which have lead to
the following publications; Violence and Communities: The Impact
of Political Violence on Inter-Community, Inter-Community and
Community-State Relationships (1990) with C. McCartney, T. Anderson
and A. Finn; Policing a Divided Society: Issues and Perceptions
in Northern Ireland (1995) with L. Moore and T. Trimble.
Budget for series of public discussions
"Is this the only city in the world where you make a political
statement by giving your address?... It (Londonderry) always
sound so awkward and unwieldy. I've never heard it trip lightly
off anyone's tongue... like saying 'The baby's in the perambulator,'
or the football spectator shouting,' Have you ever considered
a visit to the optician, referee?'... Maybe we should re-name
the city by its current description - we could call it 'Smallish-city-with-lots-of-shopping-centres-and-new-roundabouts,'
or we could call it, 'I-can't-believe-it's-not-Belfast!' "
- Anne Doherty
"I have no problem with this (name) change at all. It was
lawfully done and, I am certain, met with the approval of the
local community, but no thought was given to the minority Protestant
and unionist population of the Londonderry area as to what their
views might be."- William Houston
"The term "Londonderry"... is a combination of
the British and the Irish, of the Unionist and the Nationalist.
LONDON and DERRY seemed to the Unionists to be the ideal and practical
way to deal with a conflict of identity regarding a name..."
- Gregory Campbell
"'Territory' is how communities work and how communities
are maintained and protected. There are positive and negative
aspects of segregation. the positive aspects are that it maintains
communities, maintaining identity and safety of communities. The
negative aspects of segregation are the compounded deprivations
and stigma." - Brendan Murtagh
"How do you describe what happens when an old woman is lifted
out of the root? It's not very dramatic, stuff that ye don't notice
till it's too late. No more wee danders down the town for messages,
no more wee cups of tea in Austin's, no more bingo with her mates
at the Services Club or Saint Columb's Hall. TV., daytime soaps,
keep the house clean. Life is something that happens to ye. She's
dead this last eight years now." - Monologue by Robert Herdman
and read by James King
"Imagine Free Derry Wall reading, 'Come Back Protestants!'"
- public participant
"What they didn't tell us, though, was that instead of lookin'
on or bashin' them, we could simply have joined them. A campaign
for civil rights with a million Prods joining the bandwagon isn't
going to turn into a campaign for Irish unification, you can't
coerce a million Prods in that context." - A loyalist, cited
by David Holloway
There are differences between the nationalist community in Belfast
and Derry. firstly, Belfast has experienced about 60% of the troubles,
of sectarian assassinations, and overall, Derry has been a safer
place to live." - public participant
"People do not know how to live with peace. They are suspicious
of peace, people are looking for the catches. But there is a big
desire for it now, as people get more used to it." - public
ISBN 1 900071004
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
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