Many see the 5th of October 1968 as the beginning of the contemporary conflict in and about Northern Ireland, the day when the so-called second civil rights march took place in Derry. In 2018 the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Festival took place with events held across the city. The Chair hosted the organising committee and friends of the festival for a dinner at the Magee Campus on 7 October. It was a fitting occasion to mark this important moment in history, and to thank the committee for their work in organising the festival. To acknowledge contemporary rights issues the dinner also included inputs from the Chief Executive, Adrienne Darragh, from the Hibiscus Initiative working on contemporary slavery and trafficking issues, as well as Kay Glynn from Birnberg Peirce who worked on the Hillborough Inquest and are currently working on Grenfell inquest.
On 13 September 2018 the Chair hosted the Truth and Reconciliation Platform in the Great Hall at Magee. The event took the form of survivors of the conflict sharing their stories and experiences with the public. Powerful testimony was given by Joe Campbell, Kathleen Gillespie, Stephen Travers and Alan McBride. The evening was deeply moving and inspirational, and shows why moving forward the peace process is so important.
Professor Hamber and Grainne Kelly continued to work on the concept of reconciliation. In 2017 they spoke at two high-level events in Northern Ireland. The first with The Executive Office and staff as they consider the role of reconciliation in the draft Programme for Government and Together: Building a United Community (TBUC). They participants and delivered the keynote address at a further seminar at the “Together: Building a United Community Engagement Forum” on 15 June 2017, with the Executive Office (TEO) and over 160 community practitioners, policymakers and academics that took place at the Girdwood Community Hub.
A report from BBC Good Morning Ulster on a visit of INCORE Ulster University MSc and HECUA students visit to Stormont shortly after the 2017 election.
Importantly, the UN Special Rapporteur for Transitional Justice Pablo De Greiff has been visiting Northern Ireland this week (9-18 November) to assess the initiatives undertaken to deal with the legacies of the violations and abuses that took place during the period known as ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Professor Hamber was able to meet the Special Rapporteur during the visit he made to various organisations, government bodies and groups. Professor Hamber shared with him his views and research on the issue of dealing with the past in Northern Ireland. Following the visit the UN Special Rapporteur released some preliminary findings. These can be downloaded here.