CONFERENCE REPORT 23 September 2003.
Parliament Buildings, Stormont
The purpose of the Breaking the Logjam Conference was to bring a cross
section of the Northern Ireland community together with politicians
from the major parties and provide a forum at which the need to, the
will to and how we move forward could be discussed.
It took place at a time when there was doubt as to whether elections
to a Northern Ireland Assembly would take place.
We recognise that political events quickly move on yet there were
issues raised at the conference, which could continually apply both
in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
INCORE WOULD THEREFORE LIKE TO THANK ALL
THE PARTICIPANTS, BOTH THOSE WHO FORMALLY MADE PRESENTATIONS AND
THOSE WHO TOOK PART IN THE QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSIONS.
of general agreement:
- There was a
real need for greater collective responsibility between politicians,
community in general and citizens.
- It is essential
for people to enter into dialogue and that politicians hear what
they are saying.
- It is only
through this process that people are given a sense of value and
the confidence with each other.
lack of an Assembly was universally criticised.
- There was debate
on the extent of individual Ministerial responsibility compared
with collective responsibility and the power base of Ministers /
Departments as compared with the Assembly s power.
- There is a
need for quicker decision making.
- The business
community have been and want to continue developing positive engagement.
This sector wants a locally elected assembly and local accountable
- Despite the
political differences there is a sense that parties are involved
in a common process.
Executive should have a more strategic focus.
There are three stages to peacebuilding (based on the work of Naomi
encounter stage when there is agreement to ignore the past
for the time being
internal societal change the traumatic period in which identity,
religion, ethnicity and territory are all questioned and
reconciliation stage this period is about values and recognising
peace as an objective and mechanism to establish a fair society.
- Concerns were
expressed about the ineffectiveness and / or lack of vision of the
Shared Future document.
- There was a need
to find a common voice in support of peace.
- Peace and reconciliation
is everyone's responsibility.
- Confidence building
is essential to breaking logjams.
vision of peace can be different between politicians and the community
sector. Politicians can view it as making a deal and getting the choreography
right. The community sector sees it as a long term, subtle process
which works for changes in attitudes and levels of understanding.
the Civic Forum:
opinions were expressed about the Forum, from support for it and regret
that it was suspended along with the Assembly to views that doubted
the Forum s effectiveness.
From the presentations and discussions it was evident that there were
many perceptions of issues and sometimes even the same words carried
different meaning - eg - who were the victims, what type of government
and agreement would serve the people, how people understood the conflict
and how political aspirations, recognised in the Good Friday Agreement,
still evoked strong reactions.
is clear that breaking the political logjam is not just about the
institutions; societal context, the connection with the people and
the trust of the people are vital. It was also interesting to note
the issues that were not prominent. There was no reference whatsoever
to east-west relations which are important to the unionist/loyalist
tradition. There was some reference to north-south relations, which
are important to nationalist/republican traditions.
To view the full conference agenda, click