TEDxStormont is Back!

TEDxStormont is back, taking place on Saturday, 17 September from 11am to 3pm at the MAC in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

Organised along the theme of “Imagine” and supported by lead sponsor Ulster Bank, the event will feature 12 leading thinkers, innovators, artists, philosophers and entertainers from the UK, Ireland and the United States representing such diverse fields as technology, entertainment, visual and performance art, design, politics, music and education, among others.

Speakers will look forward and “Imagine” the kind of future we could have together as a society, here in Northern Ireland and beyond. The event will be compered by broadcaster William Crawley.

This will be the third time that TEDxStormont has taken place and due to popular demand has been moved out of Parliament Buildings at Stormont and will now take place at The MAC in  Belfast city centre. Over 250 guests have signed up already with nearly 300 expected on the day.

Some of the previous TEDxStormont speakers have included: Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol; Christina Lamb, Foreign Correspondent for the Sunday Times; former First Minister Peter Robinson; deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA; Kate Carroll widow of murdered Constable Stephen Carroll, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA, Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA and Lord Alderdice.

Eva Grosman, Curator of TEDxStormont said:

“We are really excited for our third TEDxStormont. Due to the demand for tickets we have had to move from Parliament Buildings at Stormont to The MAC in the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast which means we can give more people the opportunity to come and listen to some of the best speakers and ideas generators around.”

“The main thrust of TEDx is to develop ideas worth spreading. Since we started we have had over 50 speakers travel to Belfast to tell us what they think and give us food for thought about the society we want to develop in Northern Ireland.”

“This year we have some first rate speakers from as far as California and Boston, and also closer to home, so we will have a blend of experiences that will create a fantastic event.”

“The event has been made possible with the support from our sponsors and we must give a particular thanks to our headline backer Ulster Bank who has had the vision to support TEDxStormont. We also have to send out a massive thanks to our other sponsors who include leading law firm Mills Selig, Politics Plus, Lagan Construction, Digital DNA and Uber.”

Richard Donnan, Head of Northern Ireland at Ulster Bank, the lead sponsor of TEDxStormont said:

“Our ambition is to be the most trusted bank for customer service, trust and advocacy – and one of the ways we’ll seek to achieve that is by encouraging the development of new and creative thought leadership in our local communities. That’s exactly what TEDxStormont will promote and it’s why we’re really pleased to be playing our part. There is an exciting and diverse range of speakers who are positioned to give real insight and so it is a great fit.”


‘Born and Reared’ screenings and workshops to mark #CRWeek16

To coincide with Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week, the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building will host series of community screenings of ‘Born and Reared’ across Northern Ireland. It will include Q&As and workshops with film makers Hen Norton and Dan Dennison.

‘Born and Reared’ is a moving documentary that explores contemporary Northern Ireland, through the lives of four men living in the aftermath of violent conflict; a story about re-imagined identity of place and the fragility of masculinity.

Contextualised by the country’s past the film is firmly rooted in the Northern Ireland of today as a population struggles to come to terms with the horrors and the sacrifices of its past and the men turn to face a future defined by their hopes, rather than regret.

Filmed over a year with the men in and around their homes, the filmmakers focussed on the stories that took place long after the cameras had left the news story that was Northern Ireland.

In a society where masculinity has long been measured in violence and aggression, what happens to the identities of men when the Troubles end and the roles previously held are no longer accepted or needed?

Public screening:

Monday, 19 September at 6.30pm | Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast |Tickets £4

To book tickets please go to: https://queensfilmtheatre.ticketsolve.com/#/shows/873561134


For information about community screenings please contact Susan McEwen at susanmcewen@icloud.com.


About Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week

This year’s Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week will take place between 19th and 25th September, 2016.

Supporting the Together: Building a United Community strategy, it is an opportunity to celebrate all aspects of our culture and heritage, promote cultural diversity and tackle sectarianism and racism.

The Week provides a platform for organisations and groups from the community and voluntary
sectors, arts, culture, sport, education and the wider public sector to showcase innovative approaches to good relations and building a united and shared community.

The theme for this year is Building the Future Together and will focus particularly on youth and looking at how all members of our society can shape the future to be a positive space in which our diversity is celebrated.


Coventry to Belfast: Journeys of Dialogue and Reconciliation

You are invited to

“Coventry to Belfast: Journeys of Dialogue and Reconciliation”

on Thursday, 6 October from 8.30am to 10.30am

in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Stormont


  • Lord Alderdice, Chair, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building
  • Professor Mike Hardy, Chair, RISING Global Peace Forum
  • The Reverend Canon Sarah Hills, Coventry Cathedral Canon for Reconciliation
  • Pádraig Ó Tuama, Leader, Corrymeela Community


Register at www.getinvited.to/cdpb/rgpf


This event has been organised by RISING Global Peace Forum in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Corrymeela as a part of their regional programme.

Inspired and supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the RISING Global Peace Forum was founded in 2015 by a partnership between Coventry University, Coventry Cathedral and Coventry City Council. As the UK’s City of Peace and Reconciliation, Coventry is uniquely placed to demonstrate both the catastrophic consequences of conflict and the transformative power of peace. It brings together political, faith and community leaders; peace-builders; diplomats; academics; the media; and members of the public in the common cause of provoking peace. The next annual gathering will take place from 15 to 16 November 2016 in Coventry. For more information please visit rising.org

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Centre for Democracy & Peace Building launch post EU Referendum programme to establish best outcome for NI

Establishing-the-Best-Outcome-for-Northern-Ireland-1The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB) launched the next phase of their EU Debate NI Programme this morning with an event hosted by Ulster Bank.

In partnership with Professor David Phinnemore and Dr Lee McGowan from Queen’s University Belfast, the Centre has produced a paper entitled “After the referendum: Establishing the best outcome for Northern Ireland”.

Following the decision of the UK to leave the EU, the paper explores where we are, the potential options for Northern Ireland and the issues that we must consider in NI as a result of this referendum.

Conor Houston, Programme Director at CDPB said “The decision of the UK electorate was to change the relationship between the UK and EU.  That is why CDPB are continuing our important work with EU Debate NI. Now more than ever we need to have an informed and inclusive conversation across the private, public and community sectors to understand the practical implications of the decision to leave the EU and how to achieve an outcome that is in the interests of all people.  This means carefully debating the kind of relationship we want to have with the EU and exploring new relationships with other countries around the world.”

He continued “CDPB acknowledge the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust who have generously supported the EU Debate NI programme and without whom we would not have been able to continue our important work with this programme”.


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CDPB are currently developing an online toolkit allowing interested individuals and groups to understand the issues and to help host events that allow communities to consider the kind of relationships they envisage with the EU.

Professor David Phinnemore told an audience from across the private, public and community sectors: “The outcome of the EU referendum has created considerable uncertainty about the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU. It has raised questions about how any new relationship will be negotiated and whether and how it can satisfactorily accommodate the interests and preferences of the people of Northern Ireland. There are many issues at stake and many unanswered questions. It is important that the range of challenges is fully recognised, solutions identified and the priorities for Northern Ireland effectively promoted such that the best possible outcome to the prospect of Brexit is secured.”

The paper is available to download at www.democracyandpeace.org/publications

Hazel Made in Belfast

Join us for the World Premiere of “Hazel: Made in Belfast” in New York’s Carnegie Hall

A key figure in the emergence of the Irish state is to be commemorated at a special concert in New York’s world famous Carnegie Hall later this year.

Carnegie Hall will be the setting for the world premiere of: “Hazel: Made in Belfast” which presents the untold story of Lady Hazel Lavery, wife of the famous painter Sir John Lavery who had an influential role in the Anglo Irish talks involving Michael Collins, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.

Lady Lavery helped build diplomatic links between key figures in the negotiations that led to the Treaty that created the Free State and let her home be used to host the historic Anglo Irish Conference on 1921.

This concert will be performed by the stunning young Irish soprano, Sarah Power making her New York debut, accompanied by the Irish violinist Aveen McEntee, leader of the Dublin Symphony Orchestra with Irish poet and script-writer, Terence Browne on piano. New York artist Gregory de la Haba narrates the most romantic, sacred, beautiful and historic Anglo-Irish-American story of all time.

Hazel a beautiful young American artist from Chicago was married to Belfast painter Sir John Lavery.  Sir John had been commissioned by Justice Darling to paint him passing the death sentence for High Treason on Irish revolutionary, Sir Roger Casement. Hazel while sitting in the public gallery at the Court of Criminal Appeal in London with her husband decided then and there to seek to reconcile Ireland and England, which had been locked in apparent never-ending conflict for over seven hundred years.

Historians had for many reasons airbrushed Hazel out of the narrative of Ireland’s achievement of Independence, and the establishment of Northern Ireland in 1921, until Sinead McCoole published the first and only biography in 1996 entitled Hazel – A Life of Lady Lavery (Lilliput Press).

Although Hazel had been the icon representing Irish female beauty on Irish paper currency from 1927 until the introduction of the Euro, practically no one in Ireland knew of her central and pivotal role.

Hazel used her house in London to play informal host to range of celebrated figures and politicians and establish diplomatic links between them. On the evening of 5th December 1921, Hazel drove Michael Collins in her car to Downing Street where he signed the Treaty granting Independence to Ireland. And they say the rest is history…

To book tickets please go to: http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2016/10/16/0730/PM/Sarah-Power-Soprano-Terence-Browne-Piano-Aveen-McEntee-Violin/

EU Debate NI

EU Debate NI: Where NI goes next?

Following the decision by the UK electorate to Leave the EU, The Centre for Democracy & Peace Building (CDPB) are to continue their ‘EU Debate NI’ programme thanks to support from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

EU Debate NI took a neutral position to stimulate and inform debate in Northern Ireland on the consequences of remaining in or leaving the EU.

The EU Debate NI Briefing Paper set out the issues and the questions to be considered in respect of the referendum in Northern Ireland, while the outreach events and online toolkit engaged thousands of people in understanding the different issues and arguments in the Referendum.

Lord Alderdice, CDPB Chairman speaking in the House of Lords said:

“We developed a public conversation which we called EU Debate NI. I pay tribute to Eva Grosman and Conor Houston from the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building that I run in Belfast. This became the major initiative in Northern Ireland: a public conversation, not campaigning for one side or the other, but enabling people from all sides and with all views to come together in public and engage on the legal, constitutional, educational, agricultural, industrial, economic—all aspects of the question.  It meant that in Northern Ireland the debate was able to be conducted without some of the rancour and vitriol that there was in other parts of the UK.”

EU Debate NI will create the space for informed debate through events, online engagement and community outreach across NI. There will be a new Briefing Paper produced in conjunction with academics from Queen’s University Belfast setting out a roadmap and summary report of options for Northern Ireland.  EU Debate NI will make this accessible to communities and groups across Northern Ireland and promote a national conversation about how Northern Ireland can best protect its unique and special interests post-referendum.

EU Debate NI looks forward to engaging all across our society in this important discussion – follow us on Twitter @EUDebateNI or visit our website at www.eudebateni.org

New Board Members

CDPB announces new appointments to the Board and Advisory Board

We are absolutely delighted to announce appointments of Dr Laurence Crowley CBE to the ‪Board of Directors and Mr Terence Browne to our Advisory Board.

Dr Laurence Crowley CBE is chairman of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Ecocem Ltd., The Middletown Centre for Autism and Realex Payments Ltd.  In 2005 he completed his term as Governor of Bank of Ireland.   He is also a director of O’Flaherty Holdings Limited, The Gate Theatre and a number of not-for-profit companies.

Formerly, Laurence was a Partner in KPMG Stokes Kennedy Crowley for many years, specializing in reconstruction and insolvency.

He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from University College Dublin and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.   In 2004 he was conferred with an honorary Doctorate in Laws by the National University f Ireland.

In 2009 Laurence was awarded an Honorary CBE by Her Majesty the Queen.

Terence Browne is a poet and pianist. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from University College Dublin with a background in Corporate Finance. He was appointed executive director of the Irish Spirit Award established by Ross Perot of Dallas Texas in 2003 to honor the life and works of his late friend and colleague Dr. Harry E. McKillop.

Terry has written a number of collections of poetry and the musical art-history of modern Ireland entitled “Hazel – Made in Belfast” which opens at Carnegie Hall, New York on October 16th, 2016.

You can book your tickets here https://www.carnegiehall.org/m/event.aspx?id=4295020072


Sir Van Morrison to perform at CDPB dinner











The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building are delighted to offer you a unique opportunity to support their work at the exclusive ‘Imagine’ dinner with an intimate concert by the legendary Sir Van Morrison.

The event will take place at the magnificent 5 Star Culloden Hotel in Belfast on Saturday 17th September 2016.

With a limited seats available, this is the best way to see and hear Sir Van in a ‘jazz club’ cabaret-style atmosphere. The show is preceded by a sumptuous dinner showcasing and celebrating the best of Northern Ireland produce.

We are realising a limited number of general admission tickets (dinner and concert only) at www.getinvited.to/cdpb/sirvm

For further information about Sponsorship Opportunities and VIP Packages please contact:

Eva Grosman at eva.grosman@democracyandpeace.org


Conor Houston at conor.houston@democracyandpeace.org


Cover 2016

Annual Report 2016: Building the momentum

If the first year was about getting started, year two of CDPB has seen the building of remarkable momentum.  Even a quick glance through the monthly calendar of events will show the extraordinary level of activity of the Centre and those who work with us, especially our Chief Executive, Eva Grosman and Programme Director, Conor Houston, to whom I want to express particular appreciation and acknowledge a profound debt of gratitude.

In addition to building on the various on-going programmes like “Unite against Hate” (look inside at the major success of Music Unite) the past year was notable for the EU Debate NI initiative. At a time when there was almost no serious public conversation about the issue, CDPB started work with universities and students, the legal profession, the business community, the agricultural sector, voluntary, community and statutory agencies, the Northern Ireland Executive, the British and Irish Governments and the European Commission to create a thoughtful and informed debate about the EU referendum. In recent months it was widely acknowledged by all sides of the argument that not only had CDPB taken the lead on the issue in Northern Ireland, but also that the open, creative and engaging way in which it was conducted owed much to the approach taken by CDPB.  Thanks to Conor and Eva for their leadership, but thanks also to those who gave us the financial support that made it possible, not least the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

While EU Debate NI comes to a conclusion with the holding of the referendum, and some initiatives such as the Leadership Academy were pilot exercises that will be assessed and may be taken forward in the autumn, other programmes like Together, TEDx, the Women’s Enterpreneurship Day (congratulations Eva on being appointed NI Ambassador for this initiative) and our partnerships with the Washington Ireland Programme and Corrymeela have already proved themselves and are an established part of our on-going Northern Ireland programme.

Last year also saw significant steps forward on the international front as CDPB welcomed visitors to Belfast and started building the foundations for substantial ongoing partnerships in Britain and Ireland, North and South America and the Middle East.

With an enlarged Board of Directors, an enhanced Advisory Board, and a new office base in Belfast City Centre, the momentum is building, and with it our need for more financial resources to help realise the CDPB vision at home and abroad.

I guarantee that as you turn the pages of this report you will begin to share our excitement and enthusiasm, and this time next year we may well be reporting on your contribution to this vital work.

John, Lord Alderdice



Download CDPB Annual Report 2016 HERE.



My name is Luca; My religion is compassion

In a week that has seen the massacre in Orlando and the brutal murder of a Member of Parliament in the UK, it demonstrates the capacity for hate that exists within human beings.

There have been vigils, rallies and public demonstrations of solidarity across political, cultural and national divides which prove the power of human spirit to unite and triumph in the face of adversity.

We do not know the exact circumstances and the complex chain of events which lead two disturbed individuals to inflict such horror. Many theories and propositions are put forward to try and explain such barbaric acts.

What we can say is that deep-seeded hatred was involved – hatred for what someone is or what they stand for and represent.

Our society has encouraged a toxic and damaging discourse. On any event or issue we seem determined to have ‘them’ versus the ‘other’ in an intractable and seemingly unresolvable dispute.

We individually can accept that life is complex and yet our society continues to function on the basis that there are only two sides to every argument.

And whilst it makes good TV, good debate, surely we are now at a point in our human evolution to accept that there are a multitude of opinions, views and perspectives on issues.

We need greater perspective. In biology the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) is the most recent organism from which all organisms now living on earth have a common descent – in other words all life on earth shares biochemistry.

LUCA creates a perspective with which to consider our common humanity and our inextricable link with one another and our world.

It also demonstrates the diversity and complexity that makes life so challengingly beautiful.

I propose that we need to do two things. Firstly, there is a time to be still. To say nothing. To quietly reflect. To stand in solidarity. This creates the space for perspective.

We also need to underpin our entire discourse, our interaction with each other with compassion.

Compassion is about a concern for others, an understanding, a kindness, a tolerance – a warm-heartedness.

I watched the outpouring of solidarity and grief around both of these tragic events. Human solidarity. But I have also watched many react with anger and hatred. A need to target and blame someone.

Last year I wrote a blog entitled “Defending Equality; Promoting Compassion” in which I talked about growing up as gay man in Northern Ireland. I urged all sides in the debate around civil marriage equality to underpin all their arguments and their beliefs with compassion. (At http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/10/30/defending-equality-promoting-compassion/)

This week, I witnessed a lack of compassion by some who appeared unwilling or unable to accept that the Orlando massacre was an attack on the LGBT community.

Sadly I also saw a lack of compassion from some within the LGBT community. I fully understand and respect the anger of many within the LGBT community as to how they have been historically treated and the struggle which continues around realising equality.

But I am quite certain that anger, vitriolic language and hatred will not result in a society underpinned by equality, respect and love.

Whether it’s marriage equality, gun control, immigration, abortion or austerity – we must ensure that we conduct our discourse, debates and discussions grounded in compassion.

This begins with each of us taking responsibility in our conversation, our interactions with each other and our social media use. If we underpin our opinions with compassion, it will lead to a more tolerant, kind society.

We are human and therefore anger, hatred are natural responses, especially when we see ignorance or are met with intolerance and hatred.

But hatred does not counteract hatred. Compassion allows us to move the narrative to one of respect and understanding towards love.

We must be compassionate with ourselves before we can be compassionate towards others – let us be gentle on ourselves and accept our frailty as human beings.

We must then be gentle towards others, even those who hold diametrically opposed views to us. We have to accept that this is a natural consequence of the complexity of our human race! If we accept this premise, then each of us can begin to challenge ourselves – how can I be more compassionate in what I say and how I relate to others?

I believe in the power of the human spirit and that our common humanity is greater than anything which can divide us.

Astronaut Tim Peake said yesterday as his space capsule landed safely in Kazakhstan “it’s good to be back on earth”. In the infinite universe it remains our only home.

Let us begin an age of compassion.

Compassion is the key to unlocking the power of love which is the greatest gift each of us can give as a human being.