The Assembly Podcast
Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement & Power-sharing - Dr. Jamie Pow and Dr. Sean Haughey
Immerse yourself in a thought-provoking seminar series as we reflect on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement's 25th anniversary. Our academic presenters will share insights from their areas of expertise and explore key themes, including power-sharing, the economy, reconciliation, rights, and gender. This episode comes from Dr Sean Haughey, University of Liverpool and Dr Jamie Pow, Queen’s University Belfast looking at their work on “A deliberative forum on possible reforms to power-sharing”.
Twenty-five years after the signing of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, debate emerges about the future of the power-sharing institutions established under the Agreement. This presentation reports on the findings of a small-scale citizens' assembly – a deliberative forum – which brought together a broadly representative sample of people from across Northern Ireland, to ascertain citizens' views on: maintaining the current power-sharing system; replacing the present system with a government formation system based purely on negotiation between political parties; or, replacing the current system with a government formation system based on both negotiation and cross-community inclusion. The findings assist in better understanding public attitudes towards the status quo and potential alternative government formation models. Importantly, they shed light on the reasons behind these attitudes and the process by which any potential reform(s) could come about.
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12. Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and Reconciliation - Professor Louise Mallinder23:50“The Role of Information Recovery and Accountability in Advancing Reconciliation – Professor Louise Mallinder, Queen’s University BelfastThis is the last of the seminars reflecting on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The theme is reconciliation.The parties to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement 1998 expressly recognised the need to acknowledge and address the harms experienced by victims; stating it “…was a necessary element of reconciliation…”. While the Agreement itself only sparsely addressed how that should be done, the then Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner was tasked to develop more detailed reconciliation proposals in parallel to the ongoing political negotiations; ultimately resulting in the publication of his 1999 report. Since then, numerous official and civil society initiatives have explored how to advance reconciliation within Northern Ireland through information recovery and accountability; and have provided recommendations. This presentation draws on the Agreement and the work of official and civil society initiatives, together with academic literature and international best practice, to consider what they all may offer to advance reconciliation relating to information recovery and accountability in Northern Ireland.View the presentationsRead the briefing paper
11. Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and Reconciliation - Dr Anna Bryson25:14Dr Anna Bryson, Queen’s University BelfastSince the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, a number of significant initiatives have sought to facilitate “uncomfortable conversations” about the past and address the rights and needs of victims. This presentation examines those efforts in light of the relevant academic literature and international best practice. In particular, it critically examines the role of oral history and memorialisation in advancing reconciliation and peace.View the presentationsRead the briefing paper
10. Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and Gender - Prof. Ann Marie Gray48:18Presentation from Professor Ann Marie Gray, Ulster University - The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement provided some optimism for the prospect of greater gender equality in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition had ensured that the Agreement included a list of rights, including a right to equal opportunity and “the right of women to full and equal political participation” in particular. Potential for transforming gender relations also was enshrined in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, a progressive and far-reaching equality duty; codified to help deliver equality for women and other protected sectoral groups. This presentation examines social and public policy priorities and outcomes, to reflect on the state of gender equality in Northern Ireland 25 years after the signing of the Agreement. It considers: how is the concept of equality understood and operationalised in policy making?; where has there been progress and what factors have inhibited progress towards gender equality?; and, what needs to happen to secure a more gender equal society in future? View the presentation slides and/or the accompanying briefing paper.
9. Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and The Economy - Dr Graham Brownlow22:21The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement ended a three decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland. Dr Graham Brownlow of Queen’s University Belfast examines how peace has brought some economic improvements, including lower unemployment, higher wages for low earners and new industries arriving. But it also highlights how progress in other areas – particularly productivity – has been limited. View the presentation slides and/or read the accompanying briefing paper.
8. Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and The Economy - Esmond Birnie22:24Senior Economist Esmond Birnie from Ulster University's presentation provides a retrospective assessment of an article published in 1998, which outlined a potential economic agenda for the then new Northern Ireland Assembly (Esmond Birnie and David Hitchens, “An economic agenda for the Northern Ireland Assembly”, Regional Studies, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 769-87). From a present day perspective, it examines key issues, including: was peace a sufficient condition for economic upsurge? And, how far was there a toxic trade-off with respect to environmental policy? As well as considering planning policy and competitiveness policy? And looking ahead, it concludes with some “forecasting” for the next 25 years.View the presentation slides and/or read the accompanying briefing paper.
7. Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and Rights - Prof. Brice Dickson21:52This presentation considers key reasons for the current lack of consensus on how best to protect human rights in Northern Ireland. It draws on academic study of Northern Ireland’s experience over the last 25 years since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, as well as lessons learned from other jurisdictions. Examining a way forward, it considers whether the lack of consensus arises from a failure of imagination and flexibility?; whether a programme of constructive engagement, with less suspicion and division, could better enable all and improve the lives of a lot of people living in Northern Ireland?; and, whether such a programme could help to fulfil human rights obligations enshrined in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement?View Presentation SlidesView Briefing Paper
6. Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and Rights - Prof. Rory O'Connell21:32Professor Rory O’Connell (Ulster University), Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (Queen’s University Belfast and University of Minnesota) and Dr Lina Malagón (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)In 2023, the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement marks its 25th anniversary. For many the Agreement projects a global image of a successfully concluded end to a conflict. However, key aspects of the Agreement remain under-enforced or simply undelivered, in particular, those provisions related to significant and wide-ranging guarantees addressing human rights and equality of opportunity. As a result, socio-economic and cultural deficits persist, undermining the capacity to achieve a “positive peace”. In this presentation, we consider what transformative potential the Agreement had, and to what extent it has been transformative? What has stymied transformation? Where are levers to support transformative change?The presentation draws on a paper forthcoming in the Israel Law Review. The research for that paper was supported by the Research Hub on Gender, Justice and Security led by London School of Economics, which is funded by the United Kingdom Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund. Professor Rory O’Connell will present the paper on behalf of his colleagues.View Presentation SlidesView Briefing Paper
4. Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement & Power-sharing - Prof. John Garry21:10Immerse yourself in a thought-provoking seminar series as we reflect on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement's 25th anniversary. Our academic presenters will share insights from their areas of expertise and explore key themes, including power-sharing, the economy, reconciliation, rights, and gender. This episode comes from Professor JohnGarry of Queen's University Belfast. The presentation is called “What the Northern Ireland public thinks about power-sharing under current devolution arrangements”A quarter of a century after the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, debates over power-sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland continue. This presentation briefly describes the current power-sharing arrangements; and then addresses public attitudes to those arrangements, highlighting key findings arising from survey data collected directly after the May 2022 Assembly Election. It examines: Was the public strongly in favour of existing power-sharing arrangements; or, was there support for reforming the arrangements? Also, how did views vary by community background; and, what were the views of those who did not fit neatly into a “unionist” or a “nationalist” category, such as those who identified as “Northern Irish”?Professor John Garry's presentation slides and accompanying briefing paper:SlidesPaper