Providing Opportunities for Dialogue

Glencree’s Ex-Combatants Programme helped consolidate the peace process by providing an inclusive forum within which current and former military and paramilitary participants can meet, exchange views, build relationships and address issues.

Glencree’s commitment to inclusivity means that in this programme we strove to include direct participants in the armed aspects of the ‘troubles’ from a wide range of loyalist and republican ex-prisoners’ groups as well as participants from military and police backgrounds from all parts of these islands.

Regular bimonthly residentials were held in which issues such as social inclusion were discussed. On a number of occasions representatives of the broader society (churches, trade unions, political parties, the business sector, the media) have fruitfully participated in discussions with and between (ex)combatants.

Following further consultations it was agreed that the programme would focus, firstly, on more in depth work with smaller numbers of participants (within a “Sustainable Peace” network). Secondly, the programme’s inclusivity would be strengthened by concentrating on groups who have been underrepresented thus far, such as members of state forces and some loyalist groupings.

Glencree Sustainable Peace Project

Developing Leaders in Sustainable Peace Building

In November 2001 Glencree took one loyalist and one republican ex-prisoner to South Africa. The visit included exposure to South Africa’s political transition and the socio-economic inequalities arising from Apartheid. A central feature was a shared wilderness experience, facilitated by the Wilderness Leadership School.

The positive results of the pilot project encouraged a similar visit in November 2002. This time the group consisted of 6 ex-combatants and 6 victims.

Following an in-depth evaluation of the programme and subsequent amendments, Glencree brought together a group of 18 participants in 2004. This group was highly diverse and inclusive on every level (gender, age, region, political/religious background, role in conflict/peace): 2 participants from Britain, a Protestant and a Catholic from the Republic of Ireland, 4 from the (North) West of Ireland, 1 from Derry, the rest evenly divided between communities in and around Belfast; 2 UVF ex-prisoners, a PIRA and 2 INLA ex-prisoners, a senior ex-RUC/PSNI officer, a senior ex-British army officer, project leaders of a republican and a unionist victims’ group, 3 cross-community victims workers, a former British Metropolitan police survivor of the Harrod’s IRA bomb, a Northern Irish Presbyterian and 2 Catholic youth/church workers, the project leader of a Belfast cross-community women’s group, the CEO from a large Irish construction company.

Aims of the Sustainable Peace Project (SPP):

  1. To promote sustainable relationships between victims/survivors, ex-combatants and members of the broader society on the islands of Ireland and Britain;
  2. To develop meaningful partnerships between participants from the global “North” and “South”;
  3. To nurture leadership in environment friendly peace building;
  4. To enhance appreciation for the roles of wilderness or nature-based activities in peace building.
  5. To provide opportunities for personal development for a core group of (potential) leaders.

Click here to view the Sustainable Peace Trail Map, a visual presentation of the journey of the Sustainable Peace Network, 2001-2008.