Update - you can find out what happened and even listen back to the debate from the follow-up post.
Mark Devenport is chairing this year’s panel which is in the process of being publicly announced, but safe to say that there are some heavyweights on the list to attend and respond to questions from the floor.
- Liam Clarke (journalist and commentator)
- Dawn Purvis (Independent MLA)
- a senior republican MLA (Sinn Fein)
- a member of the NI Executive (DUP)
- a senior government representative
Last year’s event was a response to the successful West Belfast Talks Back that has become a regular feature of the summer festival. Back in September 2009 around 130 people came to the school hall and asked Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP), Gerry Kelly (Sinn Féin), Naomi Long (Alliance), Laurence Robertson (Conservative) and Patrick Corrigan (Amnesty) about:
- loyalist working class areas getting left behind;
- the effectiveness of the HET;
- negative reporting by the media;
- the Bloody Sunday inquiry (which hadn’t been published at that stage);
- the possibility that a Tory government would declare NI an enterprise zone and reduce corporation tax to attract business;
- the 11 plus;
- Belfast City Airport’s runway extension and the possibility of a public inquiry.
I bet some of those topics get raised again this year! But let’s hope there are some fresh ones too. The video below records the impressions of organiser James Smyth as last year’s event ended ...