CDPB Chairman, Lord Alderdice talks to Israel TV about Peace Building

On a brief visit to Israel in March, Lord Alderdice gave an interview that was broadcast on Israel TV1′ s main Saturday evening Foreign Affairs programme.  There was a lot of positive comment from various parts of the Middle East and we thought that CDPB web-site followers might be interested to see it too.

The interview is short, but in a few minutes Lord Alderdice maps out some of the key elements to the approach that he took in addressing the Talks in Northern Ireland and the subsequent long-term and continuing process of implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.  He also discusses the similarities and differences between the problems facing Israelis and Palestinians in their long-standing conflict, and the applications and limits of experiences in one conflict as applied to other places.

Music Unite: Bands March To The Beat Of Their Own Drum

A new report into the Music Unite project has shown how music can unify people, address alienation and challenge stereotypes.

The report by Professor John Brewer and Dr Francis Teeney from the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, (Queen’s University Belfast) has been published by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB).

The report specifically examines the Music Unite pilot project developed by CDPB in partnership with Beyond Skin.

The project gave the Shankill Road Defenders Flute Band the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and genres with musicians from other backgrounds and cultures, develop new skills and challenge stereotypes associated with the Loyalist bands.

Junior Minister Emma Little Pengelly said: 

“Tonight’s showcase clearly demonstrates  how bringing people together from diverse cultures and backgrounds can break down barriers, change perceptions and  help build a more united community. The Music Unite project is a great example of work undertaken to deliver the aims of the Northern Ireland Executive’s Together: Building a United Community strategy. We are determined to build a more reconciled and united Northern Ireland. Building on a shared interest Music Unite has given the people who took part the opportunity gain new skills, experience and, most importantly, an understanding of each other. Tonight’s showcase shows just what can be achieved when we work together.”

Professor John Brewer said:

“Through the study we wanted to see if we could change perceptions of the Loyalist flute band culture by allowing the members of the Shankill Road Defenders the opportunity to meet other musicians, exchange musical ideas and genres and widen their musical horizons and repertoire. 

“The study demonstrates that music is indeed a powerful way of drawing together people from diverse backgrounds. It is widely accepted that there is a growing sense of alienation amongst young working class Loyalist men and we are delighted to say that the project was warmly welcomed by all involved and especially SRD participants who do feel that their music and cultural expressions are greatly misunderstood.”

An event to showcase the Music Unite project was held at the MAC Belfast on 30 March and featured an eclectic mix of traditional flute band music fused with Colombian, Kurdish, Ghanaian, Sri Lankan and Irish sounds. There were performances by Shankill Road Defenders, North Down Defenders and Ballykeel Loyal Sons of Ulster.

At the event, Beyond Skin  also showcased their two international flagship projects connected to Music Unite – WOMAD NI and Parallel Versing with special guests from Sri Lanka and Colombia in attendance.

Chief Executive of the Centre for Peace Building and Democracy, Eva Grosman said: 

“We were keen to demonstrate the power of the arts in contributing towards peace-building in Northern Ireland. Following the success of the pilot project with The Shankill Road Defenders,  we are delighted to provide opportunities like this to many other bands with our partners Beyond Skin who have enabled us to collaborate with international musicians.

“The project gives Loyalist band members an opportunity to interact with musicians from different cultures and celebrate their own identity whilst addressing some of the very negative stereotypes that exist around these bands.”

Senior members of CDPB offer assistance in Colombian Peace Process

​As we come to a critical period in Colombia’s history, senior members of CPDB have returned to offer assistance on a number of fronts.

The negotiations between the Government of Colombia and senior officials of FARC are coming to a conclusion and though it had been clear for some weeks that the March 23rd deadline would not see the signing of an agreement, it was equally clear that the commitment of both sides is very likely to see a positive outcome within weeks.

Director, Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Chairman, Lord Alderdice both made separate visits during March to follow on their previous involvements in the Colombian Peace Process.

In his three-day visit Jeffrey Donaldson continued his work with other Northern Ireland politicians engaging with FARC political figures and elected and governmental officials, including the Presidents of the Senate and the House in the Colombian Congress.

Lord Alderdice met senior government officials including the country’s President, Juan Manuel Santos and also spent much of his week-long visit encouraging and supporting university and professional groups and peace NGO’s, including the Colombian Peace Council and the Centre for Memory Peace and Reconciliation in Bogota. He focussed in on the needs of the seven million victims of the decades of violent conflict and explored the challenges the Government faces in re-integrating thousands of former guerillas and paramilitaries. He also addressed meetings of senior private sector CEO’s in Colombia about the opportunities and responsibilities of the business and commerce communities to contribute to the implementation of the Peace Agreement when it comes.

Speaking to the press in the Presidential Palace in Bogota after his meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos, Lord Alderdice said:

“I had an excellent meeting with the President and assured him of the support and good wishes for the Colombian Peace Process of the more than 100 member parties of Liberal International, of which I am Presidente d’Honneur, and also of people across the United Kingdom and Ireland. We discussed in some detail the challenges of completing the negotiations in the very near future, seeking public affirmation in a plebiscite and the difficult and inevitably long-term work of implementation during the rest of his Presidency and beyond. The President is working extremely hard to deliver a peace that will make for a better future for the children of Colombia, and for their sake this unprecedented opportunity for a settlement must not be lost.”

CDPB intends to continue to respond positively to the requests for assistance from Colombia.

Chris Maccabe CB joins CDPB’s Board of Directors

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

Chris Maccabe served as a private secretary to the Chief Minister of Northern Ireland, Brian Faulkner, during the short-lived power sharing Executive in 1974; and as a private secretary to the Deputy Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1977.

Between 1980 and 1984 he was a special assistant to the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Sir John Hermon; and from 1988 to 1991 Director of Regimes in the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

In 1992 he was appointed head of the Political Affairs Division in the Northern Ireland Office, and subsequently Political Director of the NIO (an appointment coupled with the role of British Joint Secretary of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference). From then until his retirement from the NIO in 2008 he was deeply involved in the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement and beyond, and in discussions with the associates of various paramilitary groups. Since 2006 he has given advice to the governments of Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Tanzania and elsewhere on peace processes and political development.

He is currently a member of the International Verification Commission monitoring ETA’s ceasefire in Spain; the Minister of Justice’s representative on the team assessing the Minister’s 2010 agreement with dissident Republican prisoners in Maghaberry Prison; Chair of Belfast Conflict Resolution Consortium; a director of Forum for Cities in Transition (Belfast) Ltd; and a governor (and former Chairman) of Victoria College Belfast.

Chris holds bachelors and masters degrees in law from Queen’s University and the University of London. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Irish Studies at Liverpool University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2004 he was appointed a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.


PSNI’s first multi-agency seminar to tackle hate crime

The Police Service of Northern Ireland hosted their first multi-agency hate crime seminar to illustrate and share practice about the range of work being been done to address hate crime issues across Northern Ireland.

ACC Stephen Martin, who is the organisational lead for hate crime, opened the event held at Newforge.

He said; “In 2014, following a rise in the incidence of hate crime the PSNI launched a range of operational measures to deal more effectively with what is a very serious issue.  Because the victims are in a minority, the impact of these crimes is much more keenly felt, can be long lasting and has a much wider resonance than just with the victim and their immediate family.  Hate Crime is a strategic priority for PSNI and I am extremely encouraged by the commitment of our partner agencies who work so hard with us to tackle prejudice and ignorance in our society. I truly believe that there is more confidence now for members of the public to report these incidents to police.

He continued; “However, we must not be complacent. We all recognise that there is still so much to do to confront hate crime and it is vital we continue to work closely with our partners and voluntary sector organisations.  Collectively we need to send a strong message that Hate Crime is not acceptable, and where it occurs, seek to catch those responsible and place them before the courts.”

Following the opening address Denise Wright, Race Relations Manager from South Belfast Roundtable and former PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan McIvor took to the stage to discuss working with the Syrian refugees.

Jonathan McIvor, who is Director of Siren Associates said; “For over two years former PSNI officers, as part of a British Embassy funded project implemented by Siren Associates, a Northern Ireland not for profit organisation, have been working to create safe and secure environments for Syrian Refugees in camps in Jordan in partnership with International Organisations. The process of integrating vulnerable Syrian Refugees into our communities here will require understanding, generosity and a commitment to valuing diversity. Some of the learning from that experience is helping to inform the process of receiving refugees into Northern Ireland.”

Kerry Malone, Probation Board NI Area Manager, said  “PBNI value the ongoing multi-agency partnership working and welcome the opportunity to present at the Hate Crime Seminar. PBNI address all aspects of abusive behaviours outlined under hate crime legislation through the provision of professional analysis in pre-sentence assessment and evidence based, effective intervention during supervision. PBNI are committed to changing lives for safer communities”.

Jolena Flett from the Migrant Centre NI spoke about the hate crime advocacy services and said; “We are encouraged by events like this that give the community and the PSNI the opportunity to come together and share learning and improve services to victims.”

Eva Grosman, CEO Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and co-founder of Unite Against Hate campaign added; “The Unite Against Hate campaign aims to raise awareness of hate crime among the general public, address under-reporting of hate crime and promote the benefits of diversity among people in Northern Ireland.  Our work would not be possible without the ongoing support from the key partners, including the PSNI. The Police Service was the main driver behind the original UAH campaign and continues to lead the way in addressing and improving response to hate crime across NI.”

ACC Martin concluded; “I remain convinced that hate crime will only be resolved with a co-ordinated, multi-agency approach. Together with our partner agencies we will continue to work closely and engage with our most vulnerable communities, increase confidence and ensure that Northern Ireland is a welcoming place for those who are forced to flee their homes.  We would ask the community to assist us in that effort.”


Music Unite in Ballymena

The Ballykeel Loyal Sons of Ulster band are to perform at the Ballymena Showgrounds as part of the ‘Music Unite’ programme on 23th March 2016.

Music Unite is a joint project between the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and  Beyond Skin and supported by OFMDFM. The Ballymena event has been developed in partnership with the Ballymena Inter Ethnic Forum.

Music Unite provides an opportunity for band members and musicians from different cultures to develop relationships, celebrate identity and perform together as well as to challenge stereotypes that are associated with Loyalist bands.

The Music Unite Ballymena project builds on a very successful pilot programme with the Shankill Road Defenders (SRD) Flute Band.

A public event will take place on 23rd March at 7.30pm at Des Allen Suite, Ballymena Showgrounds. The Ballykeel Loyal Sons of Ulster band will be joined by the Shankill Road Defenders and artists from Slovakia and Ghana and a special guest from Columbia.

You are welcome to join us to celebrate diversity and bringing people together through their love of music.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Music Unite 23rd March Flyer