CAIN Web Service

'What Now. Reflections Report' by Karin Eyben and Peter McGuire (2001)

[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
EDUCATION: [Menu] [Reading] [Summary] [Chronology] [Background] [Main Pages] [CALM] [Statistics] [Sources]

Text: © Karin Eyben and Peter McGuire ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

The following chapter has been contributed by the authors Karin Eyben and Peter McGuire. The views expressed in this chapter do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.
These extracts were taken from the report:

What Now?
Reflections Report
A Political Education Project with Young Adults in the Rural Loyalist Community
Karin Eyben and Peter McGuire (2001)

This publication is copyright (© 2001) of Karin Eyben and Peter McGuire and is included on the CAIN site by permission of the authors. You may not edit, adapt, or redistribute changed versions of this for other than your personal use without the express written permission of the authors. Redistribution for commercial purposes is not permitted.

Full Report [PDF FILE; 157KB]





A Political Education Project
with Young Adults in the
Rural Loyalist Community


By Peter McGuire & Karin Eyben


Supported by the
International Voluntary Service - Northern Ireland


This project was funded by the International Fund for Ireland’s [IFI] Community Bridges Programme and the Youth Council for Northern Ireland through their Community Relations Youth Support Scheme [CRYSS].

We wish to acknowledge and thank:

Stephen Bloomer [Counteract] for his evaluation reports of the project, which provided invaluable material for this report.

Flora Brand [Counteract].

Cheyanne Church [Incore]

Sean Collins, Mayor of Drogheda [2000]

Jane Leonard, Ulster Museum

Richard Rogers, Duncrun Cultural Initiative

Malcolm Steele, Duncrun Cultural Initiative

Gordon McCoy, Ultach Trust

Paul Donnelly & David Officer, Ulster People’s College

Paul Smith, Youth Council [CRYSS]

Joe Hinds, Community Bridges Programme, International Fund for Ireland [IFI]

Karime Melal, SCI France [Lille]



Memory of
John Horner, author, former General Secretary
Of the Fire Brigades Union
And former Labour M.P. for Didbury and Halesowen.



Preamble p. 5


Section 1 - Introduction

Outline of the Project pp. 6 - 10

Context pp. 11 - 19

Loyalist Involvement in Community Relations Work p. 19

Partners pp. 20- 23

Critical Dialogue Model pp. 24 - 25



Section 2 - What did we do?

Phase 1 - ‘Forming’ pp. 26 - 38

Phase 2 - ‘Storming’ pp. 39 - 46

Phase 3 - ‘Norming’ pp. 47 - 49


Section 3 - What did we learn?

Themes and Ways of Working pp. 50 - 59


Section 4 - What did we achieve? pp. 60 - 64


Appendix A

Evaluation Questions pp. 65 - 66


This is a report commissioned by the International Voluntary Service [IVS] reflecting on the first two years of a three-year project [2000-2002] working with young, mainly male, rural Loyalists on the fringes of paramilitary structures. The purpose of the project was to offer these young men different choices about the roles they could play within their communities and within wider society. The project was developed and delivered through a partnership between three different organisations: Counteract, International Voluntary Service [IVS] and the local paramilitary structure through the local Progressive Unionist Party [PUP].

The project was based on a dialogue model that critically engaged with the participants’ understanding of:

  • Past and current events;

  • The networks and relationships within which they live and work;

  • The structures and institutions they take reference from;

  • Their understanding of their place in relation to ‘others’.

Using the current jargon, this was a ‘single-identity’ project in that all participants identified themselves as Loyalists, Unionists and Protestants. However, it was not a ‘separate’ identity project in that the process involved a critical examination of place in relation to ‘others’; in particular the broad Catholic, Nationalist and Republican communities.

Neither was this project about ‘conversion’ in terms of making ‘bad’ men ‘good’. It was about helping people reflect and understand the choices they have made and consider the choices they could make in the future. The final decision is theirs.

The purpose of this report is to tell the story about what happened and what people learned from the perspective of both the participants and the different partners. It is a report that seeks to share the mistakes, the dilemmas and the challenges faced by all in a changing political context.

We ask you to read the report not as a ‘model’ but as a contribution to discussions about ‘single identity’ work within the Protestant community and the vital need to grow leadership capacity that is capable of embracing new political realities. This report seeks to reflect the reality of some young people’s lives living and working in rural, loyalist communities.

A final point. There were risks for all those who agreed to participate, support and facilitate this project. We ask you to be sensitive to this and to read this report in this spirit.




4.1 What did we achieve?

The goal of this project was about giving people the space and information to make more informed choices about their place in relationship with others. The evidence regarding whether these goals were met may be determined at both at a personal and organisational level. The development of the Duncrun Cultural Initiative [DCI] moves the project into the ‘performing’ stage based on these learnings over the last two years.

4.11 Personal

Conversations with participants highlighted a number of different themes:

  • A greater understanding of Republican and Nationalist thinking paralleled by the development of greater confidence in people’s own identity and sense of place;

  • A rethinking of voting habits moving from decisions based on sectarian priorities to thinking more critically about new political realities;

  • A desire to become involved in further education and learning;

  • The capacity to question what had previously been accepted;

  • Becoming connected to people and organisations that offered a sharp contrast to the values and working practices of a paramilitary organisation.


4.12 Organisational

In terms of organisational impact:

  • There were a number of participants who were waiting to join the local paramilitary organisation who decided against it citing involvement in the project as a key reason;

  • The project provided the space for a number of people, already questioning the validity of Loyalist violence post Good Friday Agreement, to leave paramilitary organisations.


4.13 Loyalist Community

As news of the project spread by word of mouth, it began to attract participants from the wider Loyalist community with no links to paramilitary structures. This became a defining moment in the existing partnership, highlighting the need for a brokerage group between the paramilitary world, the wider working class Loyalist community and the voluntary/community relations sector.



4.2 Duncrun Cultural Initiative

As work with each group came to an end, there remained a growing number of individuals, from both the paramilitary and wider Loyalist working class community, who wished to carry on with the process. Following a series of meetings and workshops, it was agreed to develop the Duncrun Cultural Initiative [DCI]. The name ‘Duncrun’ translates as ‘fort of the Cruithin’ reflecting the heritage and culture that many of the group share. The actual Duncrun site lies in the Magilligan area of Co Londonderry.

The purpose of DCI is to continue working with Loyalist, working class communities addressing perceptions of alienation from the political and peace processes and exploring ways of building understanding and relationships that cross the sectarian divide.

There was also broad agreement that people wanted to move away from labels and categories, including eventually the category of ‘Loyalist’.

The group drew up a mission statement indicating the desire:

To build confidence within the Loyalist community outside the greater Belfast area so that we can play a greater role in creating a new pluralist society and a genuine accommodation between the different traditions on this island .


Four strategic objectives were identified:

  1. To be a centre of support for those seeking to develop the skills, knowledge base and confidence to access learning and development opportunities.
  2. To be a resource in developing the awareness and understanding of Loyalists about other communities and grow new relationships and networks.
  3. To be a bridge between the Loyalist community and wider voluntary and statutory agencies.
  4. To be a group modelling good practice.

During this process, there was a debate about whether those who held positions within paramilitary organisations should stay within those structures or whether they should leave. The issue was around influence and whether greater change might be achieved from within the organisation or from without. It was generally agreed that at this stage within the peace process, to stay within the organisation would maintain old structures and legitimise existing practices.

DCI has built into its own structures a critical dialogue model through the establishment of an advisory group that acts as a contrast to the existing membership. As such, people who have been invited to participate on the Advisory Group are mainly from Nationalist, Republican and Catholics backgrounds. This represents a significant shift from the early days of the project whereby ‘outsiders’ and particularly those perceived to be from a Nationalist, Republican and Catholic background were treated with suspicion if not outright hostility.

The role of the Advisory Group is to participate in a dialogue with the group on issues of identity and culture as well as link members to wider networks and themes around racism, gender, the Irish language and men’s health. For example, members of DCI attended both as participants and speakers, the Scoil Shliabh gCuillinn, the Annual Bi-Lingual Winter School held in Mullaghbane, South Armagh.

Connecting rural Loyalists to a wider world remains a key part of a process that is about those from a Loyalist background finding their place and participating in a new political context away from fear and violence. It is about becoming confident partners in building a more inclusive and pluralist society.

4.3 Conclusion

We hope that you have read the report in the spirit that it was meant, as a means of generating an open and honest debate around community relations and reconciliation work with young adults in the loyalist community.

A central theme within this report is that of ‘single identity’ work, which we strongly believe must always allow other voices and opinions to be heard. The goal of such work is to support people understand and find ways out of patterns of behaviour and ways of being with ‘others’ that sustain separation rather than promote greater interdependence.

This has been an immensely hopeful project for the participants, the facilitators and the partners. We hope you are also left with a sense of hope.

We would welcome any feedback and themes you would like to raise with regards to the project and this report.


Contact Details

Peter McGuire Joe Law & Stevie Nolan
Duncrun Cultural Initiative Trademark
Email: Email:

Karin Eyben
Phone No: 028 7032 4620

Full Report [PDF FILE; 157KB]

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

go to the top of this page go to the top of this page
Last modified :