Memorandum submitted by Combat Poverty
Agency and Area Development Management Ltd
1. THE ORGANISATIONS
This submission is made by the Combat Poverty
Agency and Area Development Management Limited. The Combat Poverty
Agency (CPA) is the Irish State Agency which advises the Irish
Government on social and economic policies pertaining to poverty
in the State. Area Development Management Ltd (ADM) is an intermediary
company, established by the Irish Government in agreement with
the European Commission, to promote social inclusion, reconciliation
and equality to and to counter disadvantage through local and
Since 1994, CPA and ADM have jointly, through
an office based in the Border Counties in Monaghan (ADM/CPA),
had responsibility for the implementation of a number of measures
of the EU funded Peace I and Peace II Programmes in the Border
Counties of Ireland. ADM/CPA have also worked in a Consortium
with the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and Co-operation
Ireland to implement some of the cross-border measures.
CPA and ADM welcome the Inquiry into Healing
the Wounds: Ways of Dealing with Northern Ireland's Past and the
opportunity to make a submission to it.
2. LEARNING FROM
To date, we have learnt a number of lessons
from our work on the Peace Programmes. Some of the lessons most
relevant to the work of the Inquiry are summarised below:
At a grassroots level the Peace Programmes
have contributed much to building peace and reconciliation in
Ireland since 1994. The work has led to a number of tangible benefits
including a new mobilisation of thousands of ordinary citizens,
a series of experiments in new forms of governance and the animation
of a debate about the conduct of the peace process and the needs
of the people.
Peace building is a long term process.
Therefore, it is critically important to continue the work of
peace building at grass roots level.
As we move into a post-conflict society
the nature of that response may change, but we need to build on
what has already been achieved.
Strengthening cross-border co-operation
and relationships across the island of Ireland will have many
The grassroots work is extremely
important. However, it needs to be complemented by initiatives
at political and societal level, such as supporting political
structures, legislation and institutions on rights and equality
and civil society.
In this context an Inquiry into ways
of dealing with Northern Ireland's past is very relevant.
From our work we have come to understand that
one of the fundamentals of contributing to peace building is to
examine what is meant by peace-building and reconciliation. In
our work to date it has become apparent that:
Peace building is a process or a
journey which starts with the removal of violence, to increasing
contacts with previous adversaries or the "other community",
to confidence building, to addressing differences, to understanding
and acceptance of each other, to reconciliation. This journey
is not necessarily linear as several things can be going on at
different levels at the same time.
Peace building attempts to address
both the causes and effects of conflict.
Reconciliation is a process whereby
past trauma, injury and suffering is acknowledged and healing/restorative
action is pursued. Relationship breakdown is addressed and sustainable
relationships are created. The culture and structures which gave
rise to conflict and estrangement are transformed or reconstructed
with a view to creating an equitable, diverse and interdependent
In general, reconciliation appears
to operate at a more personal and group level, whereas peace building
appears to operate more at an institutional and political level.
Moving towards a more peaceful society requires work which is
both bottom-up and top-down.
There is clearly overlap between
peace building and reconciliation. However, there are other situations
where there is peaceful co-existence. This is where people can
live peacefully for a period in peace but without reconciliation.
Peaceful co-existence may take on different aspects in different
circumstances, but may be seen as a reluctance to address the
causes of the conflict. This may not be sustainable in the long-term
peace building process.
It is in this context, where reconciliation
is clearly integral to peace building and where addressing the
past is integral to reconciliation that ways of dealing with the
past needs to be considered for Northern Ireland.
It is recognised that a reconciliation process
generally involves five interwoven and related strands.
I. Developing a shared vision of an interdependent
and fair society: The development of a vision of a shared future
requiring the involvement of the whole society, at all levels.
Although individuals may have different opinions or political
beliefs, the articulation of a common vision of an interdependent,
just, equitable, open and diverse society is a critical part of
any reconciliation process.
II. Acknowledging and dealing with the past:
Acknowledging the hurt, losses, truths and suffering of the past.
Providing the mechanisms for justice, healing, restitution or
reparation, and restoration (including apologies if necessary
and steps aimed at redress). To build reconciliation, individuals
and institutions need to acknowledge their own role in the conflicts
of the past, accepting and learning from it in a constructive
way so as to guarantee non-repetition.
III. Building positive relationships: Relationship
building or renewal following violent conflict addressing issues
of trust, prejudice, intolerance in this process, resulting in
accepting commonalities and differences, and embracing and engaging
with those who are different to us.
IV. Significant cultural and attitudinal
change: Changes in how people relate to, and their attitudes towards,
one another. The culture of suspicion, fear, mistrust and violence
is broken down and opportunities and space opened up in which
people can hear and be heard. A culture of respect for human rights
and human difference is developed creating a context where each
citizen becomes an active participant in society and feels a sense
V. Substantial social, economic and political
change: The social, economic and political structures which gave
rise to the conflict and estrangement are identified, reconstructed
or addressed, and transformed.
Thus, acknowledging and dealing with the past
is part of the reconciliation process, but it is important that
it is seen in this broader context, where attention is also paid
to the other elements.
5. DEALING WITH
There are various ways of dealing with the past.
ADM/CPA welcome the approach taken by the Northern Ireland Affairs
Committee to examine approaches in other jurisdictions. Certainly,
the evidence would suggest that a number of factors need to be
taken into account. These include:
The decision of whether or not to
engage in a process to deal with the past needs to be made by
the community involved. In this regard a consultation process
would be an important next step.
There are various approaches to dealing
with the past eg story telling, tribunals, inquiries, commissions.
Some approaches include amnesties, others have a focus on retributive
justice. The Healing Through Remembering Project has done some
very useful work in this area, which the Inquiry should take into
Discussion on, and an understanding
of, the causes and effect of conflict would also be a useful contribution
to the discussion, by way of working towards a common narrative.
For example, the Combat Poverty Agency has recently completed
some work on exploring the links between poverty and conflict
and the important role social reconstruction can play in working
towards a more peaceful and inclusive society. This would be one
of a number of elements of this work.
In acknowledging the past, the role
of organisations and institutions needs to be included as well
as the role of individuals.
The broader community has a role
in dealing with the past. Those involved in the Peace Programmes
can contribute to this work through enhancing community discussion
and promoting community interaction, but also through examining
the past and future roles of institutions.
There is no one single approach to
deal with the pastthis work should be part of a set of
wider initiatives. Conversely, dealing with the past should be
integral to reconciliation and peace building work.
AMD/CPA welcomes the Inquiry and its purpose
to seek out and illuminate ways which have been used to resolve
similar conflicts elsewhere. ADM/CPA believes this is a useful
first step. We suggest that it would then be useful to produce
a consultation document based on this work, setting out the various
options and their potential outcomes. This should be followed
by a period of informed consultation, following which decisions
could be taken on the best way to acknowledge and deal with the
past. It is clearly an issue which needs to be dealt with in reconciliation
and peace building work, in bringing about a peaceful future in
Northern Ireland. We would welcome an opportunity to participate
further in the process or to make oral representations, based
on our work to date, if that was useful.
4 This material is based on work by Brandon Hamber
and Gra«inne Kelly in A Working Definition of Reconciliation:
Paper published by Democratic Dialogue, Belfast, September
2004. This understanding of Reconciliation has now been adopted
in the draft material relating to the extension of the Peace II
Programme for 2005 and 2006. Back