MEATH PEACE GROUP WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON PHASE ONE OF BREXIT, AND URGES RESTORATION OF NI ASSEMBLY, EXECUTIVE AND NORTH-SOUTH MINISTERIAL COUNCIL
The Meath Peace Group welcomes the hard-won agreement and reassurances in the Phase One agreement of the UK-EU Brexit negotiations. We pay tribute to all who worked to bring about this agreement – the governments, political leaders, diplomats, civil servants, EU officials, and all those who contributed positively to this outcome. We welcome particularly the restating of the commitment to the peace process, the guarantee of protection for the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement of 1998, the commitments to avoidance of a hard border, to the continuance of the Common Travel Area, the assurances of unfettered access for NI business within the UK internal market, and the continuation of EU citizenship rights for all those in Northern Ireland who wish to avail of them. We note that this is only Phase One and that there is much more work to do in these negotiations, work that will require dialogue and cooperation between the Northern parties, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between Ireland and the UK.
As a group who has worked (alongside many others) to foster peace, understanding, healing and respect for almost 25 years now, we have seen much heartening progress, particularly since 1998, but we have also witnessed many worrying setbacks. The increased division and polarisation that has beset the political process in Northern Ireland – particularly within the past year – is now seeping down into the communities, setting back the work of healing and reconciliation. This slippage must be addressed urgently now, and the damaging megaphone diplomacy should be set aside. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, we now call on the political parties in Northern Ireland, the politicians elected in good faith to the NI Assembly by the people of Northern Ireland, and the British and Irish Governments, to urgently set about restoring the NI Assembly, the Executive and the North-South Ministerial Council, enabling the restoration of faith in the political process, stability on the island, improved relations North-South and East-West, and facilitating the necessary dialogue and cooperation required in seeing through the difficult and critical Brexit negotiations in the greater interest of all who live on the island of Ireland.
8 December 2017
January 28 to February 18, 2016: workshops at St Columban’s College Dalgan Park, Navan, Co Meath, conducted by Dr Johnston McMaster and Dr Cathy Higgins (5 sessions)
May 14: joint visit to Somme Heritage Centre, Newtownards, with Lurgan Community Outreach Group and Decorum NI (Bangor). Visit to Decorum NI Centre in Bangor and talk on the Battle of the Somme by David Crabbe, followed by guided tour of Somme Museum Exhibition.
During the decade events occurred that have shaped 20th Century Ireland and still cast long shadows over relationships. Ethical remembering is about critical remembering in relation to the practice of the politics, religion, class, and gender relations during the decade. Using a developed ethical template the course explores the key events of the decade, which are inseparable, interconnected and indivisible. The approach is interactive, in which all are educators and learners. The decade has left legacies and there are themes and issues that still need to be addressed. The future is ever present in the course as imagination is encouraged and used to envision a different future for Ireland. The course is hosted by the Meath Peace Group and is based on a programme of The Junction, Derry/Londonderry. It is a follow-up to our joint Decade of Centenaries conference held in September 2015 (with Meath Archaeological and Historical Society).
Course facilitators: Dr Johnston McMaster and Dr Cathy Higgins (researchers and historians based at the Junction, assistant professors, Irish School of Ecumenics, TCD).
The Meath Peace Group course held in January and February consisted of evening sessions of presentations (25 participants), workshops and group discussions accompanied by resource manuals and one all-day Saturday session (52 participants) where we were joined by 12 members of the Lurgan Community Outreach Group and 12 from Decorum NI (formerly Ards Phoenix Group), based in Bangor. The networking and joint discussions were continued and developed during our outing to the Somme Centre, Newtownards on Saturday 14 May.
We gratefully acknowledge financial assistance from Meath Co Council (through the County Library and the Ireland 2016 fund, and through Cllr Noel French) and also from the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund towards the costs of the programme.
Dates and themes
January 28th (Thursday, 7-9pm): ‘Decade overview and context’.
February 4th (Thursday, 7-9pm): ‘Patriarchy, gender and the decade’.
February 13th (Saturday, 10-3.30pm): ‘Rising, blood sacrifice and equality deferred’, and ‘The Somme, slaughter, and sectarianised memory’. (56 participants)
February 18th (Thursday, 7-9pm): ‘The War of Independence and the Civil War’.
May 14th (Saturday): Joint visit to Somme Heritage Centre, Newtownards, with Lurgan COG and Decorum NI; guided tours of exhibition, talk on the Battle of the Somme, and evening meal.
On Saturday 16th May, 2015, the Meath Peace Group hosted a visit from members of the Lurgan Community Outreach Group, visiting heritage sites in Drogheda, Co. Louth (Millmount Museum and tour of town), and Co. Meath (Bru na Boinne centre and Knowth passage tomb, and the Ledwidge Cottage Museum, Slane). The Lurgan group also participated in the Decade of Centenaries seminar in Dalgan Park in September 2015, the Ethical Remembering Course held in the Spring of 2016 (see above) and the joint visit to the Somme Heritage Museum in May 2016.
During the Meath Peace Group’s visit to Belfast and Castlereagh, tributes were paid to the late Minister of State and Meath TD Shane McEntee who had warmly welcomed the Ards Phoenix group when they visited Slane in December 2012. On their recent return visit, 15 members of the Meath Peace Group led by Julitta Clancy and Anne Nolan were warmly welcomed by Mitch Bresland and the Newtownards group. The group toured the SS Nomadic in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast before visiting Castlereagh Borough Council where they were received by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Sharon Skillen (DUP). This was an historic occasion as it was the Deputy Mayor’s final function before Castlereagh Council was amalgamated with Lisburn Council on 1 April. In the course of the visit, books were presented representing different aspects of Meath’s rich and varied history to our Northern hosts: John Clancy presented a copy of Meath’s War Dead (by Noel French) to Deputy Mayor Skillen, stressing the importance of remembering all of our shared histories, while Oliver Ward (Meath Archaeological and Historical Society) presented a copy of the Field Names of County Meath, and Anne Nolan presented a copy of the History of Killeen Castle (by Mary Rose Carty) to the Ards Group. The Ards Phoenix Group (reconstituted as Decorum NI) took part in the MPG Decade of Centenaries conference in Dalgan Park in September 2015 and the Ethical Remembering course in the Spring of 2016 as well as the joint visit to the Somme Heritage Museum with Lurgan COG in May 2016.
Meath Peace Group and the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society hosted a second very successful decade of centenaries seminar ‘1915-1916″ on Saturday 26th September, 2015, in St Columban’s College, Dalgan Park, Navan. The seminar consisted of 4 sessions under the themes: “Ireland and the Great War”, “Easter 1916”, “Meath and the Great War”, “Meath: 1916 and aftermath” with papers looking at the key events from national and local perspectives. The seminar concluded with a panel discussion “History, Commemoration and 1916”. The speakers were: Professor Eunan O’Halpin, Dr Fearghal McGarry, Ethna Cantwell, Dr Danny Cusack, Fiona Ahern, Noel French and Ultan Courtney. A summary report is now available in the public talks section of this website (talk No. 80) and the local history presentations are also published in Riocht na Midhe 2016 (journal of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society). A video of the seminar is also available.