Amplifying voices of respect and tolerance across Northern Ireland

Author: Nick Pickles

Every day, Twitter is used to promote social change, challenge viewpoints and discuss the most pressing issues facing communities across the globe.

As a public platform, our users’ power to challenge prejudice and division is a very real phenomenon, as recognised in a study from academics Orna Young and Paul Reilly, commissioned by the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council. They found that “social media provided a ‘safe space’ or distance for individuals and groups to express their views on what may be viewed as emotive issues.” The authors describe the importance of creating opportunities to hear alternative viewpoints and positions that may not be available ‘offline’.


This is why we work directly with NGOs across the UK, training hundreds of community groups and activists on how to make the most of Twitter as platform for amplification. These groups are committed to challenging prejudice and discrimination, building stronger communities and calling out those that seek to create division.

Last week in Belfast we took this philosophy one step further.

Working alongside our partners in the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (@CDPB_NI) and the Washington Ireland Program (@WIPLive), we asked what campaigns need to be created, what ideas have not been discussed and what more can be done to ensure that the loudest voices belong to those who want a peaceful and tolerant future in Northern Ireland.


Professor Heenan joins CDPB’s Board of Directors

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Deirdre Heenan to the Board of Directors of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building. Professor Heenan is joining Lord Alderdice, Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldosn MP and Liam Maskey.

Professor Deirdre Heenan was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Communication) and Provost (Coleraine & Magee) as of 1 September 2012.

A distinguished researcher, author and broadcaster, she is a member of the Institute for Research in Social Sciences and has published widely on healthcare, education policy, social care and devolution. She is a co-founder and former co-director of the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey.

In 2001 she was the recipient of a Distinguished Teaching Award and this was followed by a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2006. In 2008 she secured an ESRC fellowship and spent nine months as policy adviser in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

In 2011 she was appointed by the health minister to join a five strong panel of experts to oversee a radical review of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. In 2013 she was commissioned by The Kings Fund to write a piece on Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland as part of a comparative review on Integration.  Together with her colleague Professor Derek Birrell she has just been contracted by MacMillan to write a book on Integration of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland.

In 2012 she was appointed to the Irish President’s Council of State as one of the seven personal nominees of President Michael D Higgins.

She is a director of ILEX, the Derry~Londonderry urban regeneration company and a school governor on the Board of Foyle College.

Professor Heenan has responsibility for corporate and institutional communications together with public affairs (including the Media & Corporate Relations team). As campus Provost for Coleraine and Magee, she also has responsibility for oversight of the general affairs of each campus including: service standards, pastoral care of students and staff, interaction with the wider community and for the Riverside Theatre.

At the invitation of Ivan Lewis, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Deirdre Co-Chaired the Heenan-Anderson Independent Commission into the Northern Ireland economy.  She is a Board member of the British Irish Association. Since its formation in 1972, it has made a significant contribution to the progress made in Northern Ireland over the past decades and it continues to set the agenda on how to build on that achievement.

She is a member of the Working Group on Higher Education in the 30% Club.  This group focuses on diversity in universities and higher education establishments.

BE THE CHANGE: Creative Workshop with Twitter | 21 January

The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building in partnership with Twitter (UK) invite you to the

BE THE CHANGE creative workshop

on 21 January 2016 from 2pm to 6pm

at the MAC Belfast, St. Anne’s Square, Belfast

to develop an online campaign to address social issues and drive positive change in Northern Ireland

To register go to

2pm – 2.15pm:
Introduction by Nick Pickles, Head of Policy, Twitter (UK)

2.15pm – 3pm:
Ideas Session

3pm – 3.30pm:
Presentations and Initial Selection

3.30pm – 3.45pm:
Coffee Break

3.45pm – 5.30pm:
Campaign Development

5.30pm – 6pm:
Presentations and Final Selection

Pizza, Drinks and Networking


The strongest campaign ideas will be developed further with support from the CDPB and Twitter (UK).

CDPB and the Institute for Irish Studies launch the Leadership Academy series in London

The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB) and The Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, in partnership with the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, are launching a series of lectures to share the knowledge and experience of conflict and conflict transformation in Northern Ireland and beyond and its relation to dissent and risk in contemporary British society.

The lectures bring together leading academics and practitioners to impart expertise and experiences that are relevant to policy makers, communities at risk and politicians in Great Britain.

There will 6, three-hour sessions, monthly between January and June, each featuring academic and policy presentations, responses from practitioners and workshops.All sessions will be held at the University of Liverpool’s London Campus (33 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1AG).

Particular emphasis will be upon conflict transformation, social justice, challenging ethnic asperity and analysis of the causes of violent extremism and how it can be undermined by progressive social change and thinking.


  • 26 January 2016: Engaging with Communities at Risk
  • 23 February 2016: Hate Crime and Community Policing
  • 23 March 2016: Social Media as a Driver of Conflict/Conflict Transformation
  • 26 April 2016: Understanding and Countering Violent Extremism
  • 25 May 2016: Challenging Conflict: Including Women
  • 28 June 2016: Conflict and Culture


Speakers include Lord Alderdice, HE Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to Britain, Professor Peter Shirlow, Blair Chair and Director, The Institute of Irish Studies, Jennifer Hawthorne, NI Housing Executive, Debbie Watters, Northern Ireland Alternatives and Vice Chair NI Policing Board, ACC Stephen Martin, PSNI, Paul Giannasi, Cross-Governmental Hate Crime Programme, Professor Deirdre Heenan, Ulster University, Nick Pickles, Twitter UK, Glenn Patterson and others.

To register please go to