"Community Reconciliation in Northern Ireland", a Democratic
Dialogue project, explored how the term 'reconciliation' was conceptualised
within a range of community organisations and local authorities
and how this understanding is translated into practical strategies
for action in engaging various sectors of society. This was done
with a view towards understanding the constraints and opportunities
created by the local councils in conjunction with the activities
of local community-based groups working on reconciliation. Three
local council areas, Omagh, Armagh and Ballymena all in Northern
Ireland were chosen to be the focus of this study.
The research examined the role that community
organisations and voluntary groups play in facilitating reconciliation
processes at community level, their relationship to local councils
and the degree to which the councils create a conducive atmosphere
for such work to be brought forward. A direct objective was to improve
local council relationships with community reconciliation initiatives,
sensitising all parties involved to the processes being undertaken
in order to enhance the work on the ground through improved communication,
knowledge and co-operation. This, it was hoped, assisted in the
development of effective partnerships and mutual understanding,
and provided for conceptual clarity of what reconciliation practically
meant, and in the long-term, ensured more sustainable reconciliation
practice. This step was taken to another level when the working
definition of reconciliation developed for the project was adopted
by the Special EU Programmes Body. The definition is currently shaping
funding and reconciliation practice in Northern Ireland.
The primary researcher on the project was Gráinne Kelly, and Brandon
Hamber wss a Senior Research Associate on the project.
B.& Kelly, G. (2004). A Working Definition of Reconciliation.
Occasional paper published by Democratic Dialogue, Belfast [
G. & Hamber, B. (2004). Coherent, contested or confused?
Views on reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Paper presented
at Reconciliation: Rhetoric or Relevance? A roundtable discussion
on concepts and practices of reconciliation, Belfast 9 June