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Community Reconciliation in Northern Ireland:

Realising opportunities, meeting challenges and ensuring
new innovation into the future

The "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.

Researchers

The primary researcher on the project was Gráinne Kelly, and Brandon Hamber wss a Senior Research Associate on the project.



Hamber, B.& Kelly, G. (2004). A Working Definition of Reconciliation. Occasional paper published by Democratic Dialogue, Belfast [ Download Ms-Word].
   
Kelly, 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 2004 [ Download Ms-Word].


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