Friday, October 25, 2013

Two public events - Platform for Change debating Haass/O’Sullivan agenda (Mon 25 Nov); East Belfast Speaks Out (Wed 27 Nov)

The last week of November is shaping up to be a week of political hustings and community discussions.

Looking towards the final stages of the Haass/O’Sullivan talks, Platform for Change are hosting a panel discussion in Dukes at Queens (aka, Dukes Hotel) on Monday 25 November from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

Previous events this year have explored flags (with a remarkable inclusive panel) and education. This time the panel tackling the agenda of the political talks and is appallingly titled:
Parades, dealing with the past, flags ... and we thought they just hated each other

After a fraught summer of rioting and recent murders, against a backdrop of political impasse since the decision by the first minister to abrogate the deal on the future of the Maze prison site, the Americans are back to try to resolve the issues dividing the parties in command of Northern Ireland’s increasingly dysfunctional power-sharing system.
  • Dominic Bryan (Institute of Irish Studies, QUB)
  • Rev Lesley Carroll (Fortwilliam Presbyterian Church; member of the Eames/Bradley Consultative Group on the Past)
  • Brandon Hamber (INCORE, University of Ulster)
  • Maureen Hetherington (Towards Understanding and Healing),
  • Peter Osborne (Parades Commission)
  • Orna Young (independent researcher)
Trevor Ringland (former Irish rugby international) will chair.

Later that week East Belfast Speaks Out is back again in Ashfield Boys School on Wednesday 27 November.

In its first three years, the community hustings has attracted audiences of 400 to the school hall and featured featured DUP and Sinn Fein politicians as well as government/opposition ministers. Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness made a rare appearance as MLAs together on a panel in 2010. This year the largest executive bedfellows are being rested and other parties given a chance.
  • Alex Attwood (SDLP)
  • David Ford (Alliance)
  • Deirdre Heenan (University of Ulster)
  • Mike Nesbitt (UUP)
  • a senior government representative (Conservative)
Mark Devenport is back in the chair and will hopefully repeat the model from previous years which allowed a large range of questions – local and ‘national’ – to be covered by the panel.

Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.

Previous East Belfast Speaks Out panels:
  • September 2009 – Patrick Corrigan (Amnesty), Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP), Gerry Kelly (Sinn Féin), Naomi Long (Alliance), Laurence Robertson (Conservative). Mark Devenport chaired.
  • November 2010 – Liam Clarke (journalist and commentator), Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein), Dawn Purvis (independent), Peter Robinson (DUP), Hugo Swire (Conservative). Mark Devenport chaired.
  • February 2012 (postponed from November 2011) – Michael Copeland (UUP), Sammy Douglas (DUP), John Kyle (PUP), Chris Lyttle (Alliance), John O'Dowd (Sinn Féin). Conor Bradford chaired.
Both events are open to the public and free to attend.

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