Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, As President of Ireland, and as Patron of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, may I send you my best wishes for your annual Una O’Higgins O’Malley Lecture, which, due to public health provisions, must be delivered at a distance.
We owe a great debt to the Glencree Centre for its many contributions to reconciliation and the building of positive relationships, across the island and beyond. There is no more important work than this work for peace. As you gather today, I am sure the combined wisdom of all participants will steer your conversations, in a shared appreciation of the vital importance of not only ethics but also creativity in seeking new pathways to peace and reconciliation. How we remember, how we may come to forgive, and how we choose what to reconsider – those are the key questions that inform our ability to construct, together a peaceful, fair and truly reconciled society.
May I wish you every success for your meeting, and thank you all most sincerely for your work in promoting greater understanding and appreciation for the need to recognise the differing narratives of our pasts, which we share.
Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann, President of Ireland
I am very pleased that Jo Berry will be delivering this year’s Una O’Malley O’Higgins lecture. Her deeply personal insight into the challenging and often complicated journey of reconciliation, offers a vital contribution to the important conversations that need to take place to support peace and relationship building on these islands. I would like to thank Jo, along with Helen Henderson, Senator Currie, Fardus Sultan and Alan McBride, for their willingness to share their knowledge and experience and enable such dialogues to take place.
The annual Una O’Malley O’Higgins lecture has become an important forum in which to explore how both civil society and political leaders can best support the vital work of reconciliation. I commend the team at Glencree for ensuring that this year’s event could go ahead despite the current challenging circumstances, and I am delighted that my Department was in a position to support it through the Reconciliation Fund.Simon Coveney, T.D. Minister for Foreign Affairs
In the 2020 Una O'Higgins O'Malley Webinar, peacebuilder Jo Berry shared her personal journey of reconciliation following the violent loss of her father, Sir Anthony Berry, who died in the IRA Brighton bombing of 1984. This year's event, the third in Glencree's annual lecture series, was hosted online due to restrictions of Covid-19 and attracted over 190 guests from across Ireland, Britain, mainland Europe, the U.S. and Africa.
Jo's difficult and painful journey of healing and reconciliation led her to meet Patrick Magee, the man who set off the bomb. In a series of face-to-face meetings, including one at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in 2000, Jo came to understand and see the humanity in the man who killed her father. Since then, she has shared a platform with Patrick Magee over 300 times to inspire others to choose non-violent solutions to heal divisions. Jo founded “Building Bridges for Peace” and has dedicated her life to promoting peacebuilding and conflict resolution around the world.
Jo’s journey of reconciliation mirrors that of Glencree co-founder Una O’Higgins O’Malley whose father, Kevin O’Higgins, Minister for Justice in the first government after partition, was shot dead by anti-treaty forces in 1927. In reconciling with her loss, Una forgave her father’s murderer despite the claim he 'danced on his victim’s grave’. Una continued to campaign for peace and reconciliation throughout her life.
Following her keynote address, Jo joined in a panel discussion with: Senator Emer Currie; Community Worker and Peace Advocate Helen Henderson, who was recently appointed to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; Muslim activist Fardus Sultan; victims and survivors advocate Alan McBride; moderated by journalist Joe Little.
Key areas the panel explored included: the meaning of reconciliation and how we can live together without violence; how personal healing and relationship building contributes to reconciliation at personal and political levels; the impact of gender on healing, reconciliation and peacebuilding; how current efforts to support reconciliation on the island of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain can be strengthened over the next 5 years.
Jo Berry is an inspiring speaker who works to resolve conflict around the world. Sixteen years after her father was killed by an IRA bomb, Jo first met with the man responsible, Pat Magee. This initial three-hour meeting led to them speaking on over three hundred occasions, on a shared platform around the world. Their unusual relationship has been told in the BBC documentary "Facing the Enemy", was featured in the film "Beyond Right and Wrong", and inspired "The Bomb", a play by Kevin Dyer.
Founder of the charity "Building Bridges for Peace", Jo advocates that unbounded empathy is the biggest weapon we have to end conflict. With political, religious and racial divides deepening as global and local events unfold, her words offer a message of hope and encourage us all to see the humanity in others.
Jo is frequently invited to address international conferences and seminars on themes of humanitarian aid, conflict resolution and human rights. She has worked in areas of conflict including Lebanon and Rwanda, Ireland, Palestine and Israel as well as throughout the U.K. She has spoken in venues throughout this country and joined panels and discussion forums on radio and TV.
Over the last years Jo has developed workshops in schools and with youth groups on topics of conflict transformation, storytelling, becoming positive changemakers, and challenging violent extremism. She is a TEDx speaker and a Visiting Fellow with the University of Nottingham (Research Primary Area in Rights and Justice). Jo is also trained as a Restorative Justice facilitator and is an advocate for Restorative Justice around the country.
Currently Jo is busy writing a book.
Having spent most of her working life in the third sector, Helen has a background in global education, community development and peace building. Helen managed a peace centre based in Derry/Londonderry, St Columb’s Park House, developing programmes promoting non-violent activism, participative democracy and compassionate leadership. Helen has just been appointed as one of the Commissioners with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Previously she coordinated the Development Education work at Children in Crossfire, collaborating with educators in global justice and active citizenship.
Helens voluntary work over the last decade has included chairing a local campaign group raising awareness and action to prevent modern-day slavery and as an active committee member of a local community association. She is constantly inspired by ordinary people who make an extraordinary difference in our world. In her spare time she loves cold water swimming around the North coast and dabbling in a bit of poetry.
Senator Emer Currie originally hails from Donaghmore in County Tyrone, where she lived with her parents, Austin Currie, who was a Northern Ireland Civil Rights leader and founder member of the SDLP, and Annita Currie. Their home was a focal point during the Troubles.
Emer moved to Dublin in 1991 and went on to study History & Politics at Queen’s University Belfast. She worked in advertising and marketing for 15 years and was a business director in the largest communications company in Ireland. She ran in the local election in Fingal County Council in 2019, the general election in 2020 and is now Senator and Seanad Spokesperson for Employment Affairs, Work/Life Balance and Northern Ireland.
Originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a survivor of the Bosnian war, Fardus has been living in Ireland for almost 28 years. She is currently the Vice-Chair of women4women DLR; a Board Director of Southside Partnership; an Advisory member of LIFT Ireland; a founding member of Sisters of Faith for Peace; and, a Board member of Muslim Primary Education Board. She is also a community representative at Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s Special Policy Committee on Economic Development and Enterprise.
As for her professional capacity, Fardus is currently a PhD researcher and a Lecturer in Marketing, Cyberpsychology and Graphic Design and a holder of MSc in Cyberpsychology with BA in Politics and Arabic. Fardus is also a Co-founder and Managing Director of an IT consultancy and graphic design company www.farend.net.
Alan McBride lost his wife Sharon in the 1993 Shankill Bomb. He has been an avid campaigner for peace and reconciliation and currently co-ordinates the WAVE Trauma Centre in Belfast. Alan has a B.Sc. (first class hons) degree from the University of Ulster and an M.Phil in Reconciliation Studies from Trinity College Dublin.
A writer, Joe Little recently retired from RTÉ where he was Religious and Social Affairs Correspondent for 25 years. Joe first joined RTÉ TV Current Affairs in 1979 and his Emmy-nominated 1981 Today Tonight documentary, Victims of Violence in Northern Ireland, was followed by ground-breaking investigative reports. In 1986, he joined BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme. In 1988 he rejoined RTÉ where he presented and edited Morning Ireland before taking on his correspondent’s role. From 2009-2014 Joe served as the elected staff representative on RTÉ’s Board.
Born in Belfast, Joe attended St Teresa’s Primary School in Andersonstown. After moving to Limerick he attended Crescent College. Aged 17, he was guest speaker at a cross-community peace rally following Bloody Sunday. He read History and Politics at UCD. Joe is married to Mary and they have three adult children and two granddaughters.
As Chair of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, Barbara draws on years of experience in peacebuilding and restorative justice at national and international level. From her role as a Peace Observer and Envoy in the Israel/Palestine conflict to her ongoing work in the Northern Ireland conflict, Barbara has been a firm advocate for non-violent means of resolving conflict through dialogue. She is also strong voice for restorative justice with first-hand experience in this area within the prison community and with those harmed through sexual abuse.
Barbara researched and presented the RTE radio series, Picking Up the Pieces, which documented grassroots peacebuilding in an Irish post-conflict environment. Having previously worked for the Combat Poverty Agency, she has campaigned to include the voices of the marginalised. She contributes regularly to discussions and debates at local and national level and has represented the Irish peacebuilding community in Geneva, Normandy, Finland, Norway and Turkey to raise the profile and influence of Ireland and Glencree within this international community.
This Webinar was hosted by the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation and funded by the Reconciliation Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.