An Invisible Tribe: Improving our relationships and public discourse

Remarks by Eva Grosman (CEO, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building), Europa Hotel Belfast, 27 November 201relationships5.

Eva was speaking having been presented an inaugural ‘Spirit of WIP’ Award at the WIP Ball by WIP Alumna and Junior Minister, OFMdFM, Emma Pengelly MLA.

An Invisible Tribe: Improving our  and public discourse

Almost every day of my working week I interact with ministers, MLAs, business and civic leaders and other remarkable individuals, who took part in the Washington Ireland Program.

WIP’s values are very much aligned with what I aspire to: humility, empathy, respect and integrity

Being a change agent, working among people like you, often feels like being part of an invisible tribe.

When Seamus Heaney passed away, Gary Lightbody wrote a wonderful piece to honour his hero.

He talked about Heaney as a Chieftain of an “invisible tribe” – a tribe of people that touch others on a level that beds deeper into our souls and hearts.

People of profound light, love and kindness that simply and maybe even without their knowledge make us and the world around them better. People that make us feel safer, happier, stronger, more centred and less confused.

The Washington Ireland Program is like of a boot camp for the members of the “invisible tribe” – a school of better living for the warriors of good.

I was asked to share with you and idea for brighter 2016. So, I thought why not focus on improving a quality of our relationships and quality of public discourse.

I’m sure that you all watched CSI Miami or one of the similar programmes. I’m sure that you are well aware that every human contact leaves a trace. And it goes beyond the DNA.

While encountering others we leave not only physical, but also emotional traces. Someone said that“people often forget what we said, but they never forget how we made them feel.”

In recognising qualities of good leaders, we are now moving from IQ to Emotional Intelligence and from Emotional Intelligence to a Cultural one.

Cultural Intelligence is the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures.

It is something which we continuously improve and develop. We do this through our experiences, but also with knowledge shared by other people whom we trust – and who trust us; via networks such as Washington Ireland Program.

President Clinton spoke last year at the Riddel Hall, here in Belfast about the need for new creative networks of cooperation – cooperation between public, private and community sectors.

To achieve this we need leaders who can cross boundaries and cross cultures, leaders who can communicate effectively and build diverse networks necessary to solve “wicked” problems. We need leaders who don’t just shy away from difference but gravitate towards it. Those are the leaders with Cultural Intelligence and these are the members of the invisible tribe.

Being a member of the invisible tribe it’s not only a privilege – it is also a responsibility. We have to lead with our words and our deeds.

So let’s think about the words – words are powerful – they can start arguments, even wars, and they can bring forgiveness and peace; words can hurt and words can heal.

George Orwell in “Politics and the English Language” said that “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When the general atmosphere is bad, language suffers.”

With elections coming up, both in the Republic of Ireland and here in Northern Ireland we have a perfect opportunity to challenge and change the quality of political discourse. Perhaps we can focus on positive agenda, positive ideas and our shared future.

On Thursday, 21 January WIP and the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building will be hosting a workshop in partnership with Twitter to develop a campaign to re-frame conversations and to challenge folly, evasions and hatred in our political and public discourse.

The project will be underpinned by a sense of hope, possibility and respect, as well as sense of a personal responsibility.

We have to be good stewards of our gifts. We have to protect our time, avoid too much noise and be ourselves and at our best as often as we can. We shouldn’t let people pull us into their storms, but we should pull them into our peace and joy.

We have to collectively be bold enough to raise standards of everyone around us, so I invite you to join us in this new project. We will need to tap into your talents, ideas and networks.

So let’s make 2016 a call to arms for the invisible tribe. Let’s work hard, play hard, do some good and hope for a “great sea-change”.

And most of all – let’s think before we speak.

Female entrepreneurs make colossal contribution to commerce – Pengelly and McCann

Junior Ministers Emma Pengelly and Jennifer McCann today addressed an event to mark Women’s Entrepreneurship Day at the Lyric, Belfast.

The Breakfast was hosted by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Ulster Bank and included students embarking on the working world, those starting up a business, established business owners, employees and stakeholders.

Speaking at the event Junior Minister Emma Pengelly said: “We have to break down the hurdles that many women encounter in bringing their talent, determination and skills to the fore for the benefit of all the citizens of Northern Ireland. Throughout history many of our key moments have been dominated by men, now is the time for women to write the future. Let us change this world for the better. We must harness our collective intelligence, passion and compassion to make positive changes that will shape this world for good. 

“I want women to step up and realise their full potential. Judging from the energy and enthusiasm of those here today I know we are well on the way to building a better future for all women in Northern Ireland.” 

Junior Minister, Jennifer McCann added: “Today’s event on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day recognises the colossal contribution women make to commerce. 

“Commerce like politics needs diversity, fresh ideas and contributions from a wide range of people. We must not frustrate or waste the talents of women; instead we must harness talent and inspire women. 

“We must all work hard to eradicate any social or economic barriers women face. If we increase the economic and social opportunities for all women we increase the collective economic potential of society.

“I thank the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Ulster Bank for making today’s event happen. Events like today will excite women empowering them to be confident, ambitious and our future entrepreneurs.”

The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building launches EU Debate NI

CDPB launches EU Debate NI

Following negotiations with EU members, the British Government has committed itself to holding a referendum on the question as to whether the UK should remain a member or leave the European Union. This referendum will take place before the end of 2017.

This referendum is of huge importance to the Northern Ireland.

Given the significance of the referendum, the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB) is launching an “EU Debate NI” programme.

The EU Debate NI will examine the potential consequences, specifically for Northern Ireland, of the UK deciding to remain in or leave the European Union. It will stimulate, through stakeholder consultation and engagement, discussion of issues that should inform the debate.

The initial consultation will draw on a briefing paper developed in partnership with academic experts from Queen’s University Belfast and University College Cork. The paper sets out questions to be considered about the consequences of the outcome of this referendum for Northern Ireland. The questions cover political and constitutional issues, key policies such as free movement and agriculture, trade and funding.

Speaking at the launch at the Great Hall, Queen’s University Belfast, Chairman of CDPB Lord Alderdice said:

“In or Out; Yes or No; whatever the result, it will arguably impact more on Northern Ireland than any other part of these islands. And yet, until now the debate in Northern Ireland has been overshadowed by other concerns. Consent is the basis of democracy and we want the decision of the people of Northern Ireland – whatever it is – to be based on ‘informed consent’. That is why we want to encourage a serious community conversation about the EU Referendum.”

David Phinnemore, Professor of European Politics and Head of the School Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast added:

“The EU referendum will be hugely important for Northern Ireland economically, politically, possibly even constitutionally. It raises a range of issues that simply have not featured in the wider UK debate so far and which need to be thought through, discussed and debated well in advance of citizens casting their vote to remain in or leave the EU. Today’s event is a first in stimulating that much needed discussion and debate.”

Conor Houston, CDPB Programme Director said:

“The EU Referendum is one of the most important decisions in a generation for people in Northern Ireland. The consequences of both remaining in and leaving the EU will have an impact on the daily lives of all the people here. This is why it is of vital importance that we have collective debate and it is essential that this debate is informed. We want to have an inclusive debate which engages everyone in Northern Ireland and includes our views in the UK wide debate.”

For more information please visit


Towards A Better Future Conference Report

The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership have been working for some time with DoJ and OFMDFM and other regional statutory, community and voluntary organisations in tackling hate crime.

As part of this work it became clear there was a need for greater connection and alignment between central/local government and the front line work being undertaken to tackle hate crime.

Taking into consideration the ongoing concern about increasing levels of hate crime, it was felt that the “Towards a Better Future Conference 2015” could provide an opportunity to:

  • Share learning from regional, national and international best practice
  • Showcase local good practice to a wider audience
  • Develop our understanding of the issue
  • Explore the potential for a strategic framework to connect the work at all levels

With representatives from over 65 local, regional and national organisations, the “Towards a Better Future Conference 2015” generated two days of thought provoking, challenging and inspiring discussion.  The conference format was specifically designed to connect communities with the issue of hate crime with conference sessions taking place in community venues across Belfast as well as the main conference session in Belfast City Hall.



Female Business Experts Mark Women’s Entrepreneurship Day With Special Mentoring Breakfast

TEN Northern Ireland female business experts will host a series of mentoring sessions this week to mark Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.

Hosted by the The Centre for Peace and Democracy and Ulster Bank at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast on Thursday November 19, the Business Breakfast is part of a series of global events.

Running across 144 countries worldwide Women’s Entrepreneurship Day celebrates the unwavering positivity women bring to the global economy, as well as empowering and supporting future generations.

Northern Ireland Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and CEO of The Centre for Peace & Democracy Eva Grosman said: “The breakfast event this Thursday will bring together influential business leaders, entrepreneurs, change-makers and social innovators to empower over 120 women in business and inspire the next generation across Northern Ireland.

Speakers at the event include media consultant Sarah Travers, Junior Ministers Emma Pengelly MLA and Jennifer McCann MLA, Shauna Burns from the Commercial Banking section at Ulster Bank and a special keynote address from a high profiled legal expert.

Shauna Burns, Head of Mid Ulster & Fermanagh Business Centre at Ulster Bank, said: “Ulster Bank is committed to supporting female entrepreneurship and this event has provided a welcome showcase for some best-in-class local businesses.

“I’d encourage anyone who has an idea to talk to us about how we can help turn their ambition into a reality. We have the people and the products in place to support women-led businesses across Northern Ireland and help to foster a culture of entrepreneurship – as we’ll see in the Women-Led Business Category at our upcoming Business Achievers Awards.”

Mentors who will be taking various sessions throughout the morning include Cathy Martin (PR and Fashion), Ellvena Graham (Banker), Jackie Henry (Accountant), Maeve Monaghan (Social Entrepreneur), Maria O’Loane (Lawyer), Nisha Tandon (Arts and Culture), Sarah Travers (Media), Suzanne Wylie (Public Sector), Sue McAllister (Prison Service) and Tina McKenzie (Business).

Find out more about Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on Thursday November 19 by logging on to, follow on Twitter @WomensEDay or join the conversation using the hashtag #WomenWOW