Funded PhD Opportunity: Exploring the Public Leadership Constellation – A Responsible Leadership Perspective

The Department for the Economy (DFE) has announced that it will be providing funding for a three-year research study of Leadership (PhD) under the supervision of Professor Karise Hutchinson, a member of the Business Management Research Institute at Ulster University and CDPB’s Fellowship Advisory Board Member.

“Exploring the Public Leadership Constellation – A Responsible Leadership Perspective” will be conducted under the remit of Business and Management Studies, and supervised by Professor Hutchinson, Dr Ian Smyth, Interim Associate Head of Department within the Department of Management, Leadership and Marketing, and Professor Mike Hardy, of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at the University of Coventry.

The overall aim of the study is to explore the building of a new public leadership constellation in a post conflict society through the lens of leadership responsibility.  Specifically, the objectives are to understand how place, i.e., a post conflict society, influences the building of a new leadership constellation and relationship dynamics between public leaders; how leadership interactions across different sectors and institutions impact upon leadership responsibility at internal (individual leader mindset) and external (relationship dynamics) levels.

The research approach of this study is defined as ‘Mode 2 research’ (Gibbons et al. 1994; Hartley, 2018) – where the idea emerged from the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building Fellowship programme developed for 24 cross-sectoral leaders spanning political, civic and business society spheres.  Adopting a case study research design, data collection will include observation and interview reporting on the process and impact of the learning undertaken by Fellows during the programme.  The evidence will inform the development of a new model of public leadership constellation and responsibility.

The research study (PhD) position will be part-time, and the DFE’s funding will cover tuition fees at the home rate and a maintenance allowance of £16,000 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

To find out more about this exciting opportunity, including eligibility criteria for the study and scholarship, please visit:

Key dates:

  • Submission deadline – Monday 28th February, 2022
  • Interview date – mid March 2022
  • Preferred student start date – mid September 2022

CDPB announces Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick as the new Chairperson

The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building is delighted to announce the appointment of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick as our new Chair, taking over from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP. As Chair, Baroness Ritchie will provide strategic leadership and promote the values of democracy and peace in NI and throughout the world.

On her appointment, Baroness Ritchie said: “Earlier this year, I was delighted to join the Board of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building. I have now taken over as Chair from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP. My sincere thanks and best wishes to Jeffrey for all he has done for the Board in implementing CDPB’s strategy around peace and reconciliation in the global sphere.

The central aim of our important work is to bring about the principles of peace democracy through reconciliation, and there is much good practice that we can share from N Ireland. We are operating many projects – of which one is the Fellowship Programme for political and civic leaders in Northern Ireland, which I hope to support and further during my time as Chair.”

Alongside her duties as Chair, Baroness Margaret Ritchie, born in Downpatrick, Co. Down is a member of the House of Lords (Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick) since November 2019. She is a former MP in the House of Commons for the South Down Constituency from 2010 to 2017 and is a former Member of the NI Assembly from 2003 to 2012.

She is also a former Minister for Social Development from 2007 to 2010 and served for 24 years as a Councillor on Down District Council and held the position of Chair and Vice-Chair of that Council. She also worked as a Parliamentary Advisor and Assistant to the late Eddie McGrady who was the former MP for South Down.

We would also like to announce that the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building is now registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (Registration Number: NIC108448) marking an important new chapter for the organisation.


Political and Civic Leaders graduate from prestigious Fellowship programme

Fellows attended sessions online and in Belfast, Dublin, and Oxford as part of the programme backed by prominent Northern Irish business leaders

Leaders in civic society, business, and politics in Northern Ireland have graduated from the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building’s prestigious new Fellowship programme at a ceremony held at Hillsborough Castle.

The Fellowship aims to support, develop, and build the capacity of Northern Ireland’s political and civic leaders, with its first programme concluding at the Hillsborough Castle graduation ceremony. Through collaboration across the political, local government, business and civic society realms, the Fellowship seeks to spark new conversations that realise Northern Ireland’s potential for progress and innovation.

This year’s Fellowship gave 22 mid-career leaders the opportunity to engage with leading policymakers, business leaders, and public figures, and sought to develop their understanding of how to tackle pressing social, political, and economic issues here. The programme’s Advisory Board, which includes prominent Northern Irish business leaders, curated sessions seeking to re-imagine leadership in Northern Ireland, with Fellows also attending sessions at the internationally renowned Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School in Dublin.

Featuring a video address from Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney TD, the graduation ceremony gathered esteemed business and political leaders from the UK & Ireland to mark the end of the first Fellowship programme. Attendees also heard from John Healy, Fellowship Advisory Board Chair and Vice President of Allstate NI, Professor Karise Hutchinson, Advisory Board Vice Chair and Professor at Ulster University, and others including Fellow Dominic O’Reilly.

The Fellowship is delivered by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB), working with key stakeholders and facilitators from the business sector and leading academic institutions. The programme is supported by Allstate NI, Devenish, FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, Ulster Carpets, the Irish American Partnership, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD, said:

“Congratulations to the Fellows who have graduated from this programme. The pandemic has continued to create uncertainty for all of us, and it is a great achievement to have brought it to this milestone.”

“The Fellowship has provided participants with opportunities to talk about key issues that are important to their communities and the space to think about the kind of leadership that’s needed to work through them. I am glad that my department’s Reconciliation Fund has been able to support this important work.”

“At times, it’s so easy to focus entirely on differences and divergence. When we spend time with each other, we can recognise the greater agenda of things where we’re all working to the same goals. I would like to thank both the Fellows and the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building for their extraordinary work in these challenging circumstances.”

John Healy, Managing Director at Allstate NI and Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

“I was thrilled to speak at the Fellowship graduation ceremony in what was a special ceremony held at Hillsborough Castle. This event celebrated the success of the first Fellowship programme which we hope will give our mid-career political and civic leaders the knowledge, skills, and relationships they require to lead Northern Ireland into the next decade.”

“This year’s Fellows have been a credit to themselves and their organisation throughout the programme. Their open-mindedness, diligence and determination led to invigorating conversations on the collective challenges we face in Northern Ireland and beyond. On behalf of the Advisory Board, I would like to thank them for their hard work over the course of this year’s Fellowship, and I look forward to seeing what each Fellow is set to achieve as their career progresses.”

Karise Hutchinson, Professor of Leadership at Ulster University and Vice-Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

“It has been both an honour and a privilege to serve as Vice Chair of the Advisory Board for this year’s Fellowship programme. When we set out in this journey, we wanted to start a new conversation in Northern Ireland, one that explores the Spirit of Possibility and the new, innovative method of thinking we need to meet the challenges of today. With thought-provoking discussions throughout, each Fellowship filled me with optimism that Northern Ireland’s future leaders can navigate us through the complexity we are facing in the years to come.”

“I was very proud to congratulate this year’s Fellows at the graduation ceremony, and I wish them all the very best as they continue to work for their organisation or community.”

Dominic O’Reilly, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building Fellow, said:

“Since the start of the Fellowship programme in September, I have found myself developing and growing in ways which I had not anticipated, learning and unlearning, challenging, and validating. While each Fellow comes from a diverse background, we all share a common goal and purpose: to make this place we each call home better, for everyone.”

Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building Fellow, said:

“I am very proud to be a graduate of the first Fellowship programme. I have formed what would be unlikely friendships and have grown to value difference. Each event, speaker, and discussion throughout this year’s Fellowship has continually shown the value of collaboration to address the challenges we face in Northern Ireland.”

The responsibility of leadership. Fellowship Graduation Speech by Dominic O’Reilly.

Centre for Democracy and Peace Building Executive Team, Fellowship Advisory Board, invited guests, and of course, fellow Fellows. 

In preparation for saying a few words tonight about the Fellowship Programme I decided to speak about the lived experience of this programme.

I have had to write this down because, to do justice to this programme and what it has delivered, I didn’t want it to be an off the cuff remark.

In this time of immediate answers, urgency, and confusion I believe it is ever more important to stop, think, and reflect on what one’s words will be.  Such is the power of words.

I could speak and write for hours about this experience, maybe I will.  It has been a journey like no other.  We have each engaged as much as possible in all of our time.  I have learned and unlearned a great deal.  There are two key experiences I’d like to mention.

On our first day at the symposium I found myself seated alongside John Healy and chatting about the programme. I don’t know why, if it was nerves or what but I recall asking him, “So how long has this programme been going?” to which John responded, “Well this is the first time…” “Really?” “Yes!  So you best make it a good one!”

Over time, I have genuinely gained an appreciation of the importance and power of John’s words that day.  The responsibility of leadership.

The second was as the Fellowship was coming to an end I found myself having a conversation with another Fellow about a fairly contentious matter: women’s reproductive rights.

For the first time ever, ever, I became aware that we were having a discussion and not a debate.  It wasn’t about one being right and one being wrong.  It wasn’t about winning or losing.  It wasn’t about changing their mind or them changing mine.

It was about learning about where they were coming from, understanding, and growing.  It required deep listening and a willingness to not have to be right, but just to engage with them.  Ultimately it was about empathy, and shared empathy at that.  I cannot describe what a rewarding conversation it was, when I consider we both hold such strongly held views on the matter.

I honestly do not believe I could have had such a conversation before this programme.

When thinking about tonight I did wonder, how are we graduating when there has been no final exam?  However, as Karise has said so beautifully: leadership is a muscle.  The test for us will be in exercising that muscle as we leave here, in how each of us lead in politics, business and civic society in the next decade and beyond.  That there are some Fellows here who will stand in the Assembly election next year is such a beautiful thing.

Whether we are in politics, business or civic society we need to work together, to be nourished by each other, to challenge each other and to make sure we are not repeating the mistakes of the past but building up the community of this place we call home.

For me personally, I’m continuing on my journey with a new perspective and appreciation for politics.  I entered this programme with a grounding in nonviolence.  The Fellowship has only deepened those roots and made me want to share it with others, to ennoble and empower and to challenge others and myself.  Be warned.

More importantly though, I have gained branches of Fellow leaders, that I can lean on, that I can encourage and that I can work with and who I cannot wait to work with.  The challenge is on us now to take the major investment which so many have placed in us and to transform our shared home into a place of understanding, empathy and genuine inclusion and equality.

Thank you to Eva and everyone who invested, prepared and delivered this programme.

Now, in conclusion last week Eva very kindly referred to me as the Poet, and that just warms my soul.  In the Spirit of Possibility I’d like to end with these words for everyone here tonight, committed to building a more democratic, and peaceful home for us all.  We are the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building.



I sat one day in Belfast town,

An old man stopped, May I sit down?

Please feel free, come take a seat,

Rest your heart and rest your feet.


The old man sat, sir you are too kind,

But do you mind if I ask, just what’s on your mind?

You look deep in thought, your face it is stern,

What weighs on your soul? Please help me to learn.


The cause of my worry, is hard to make clear,

I feel lost in the present, where the past has appeared.

I cannot make sense of the anger and fear,

I cannot make sense of the voices I hear.


The voices you speak of, what do they say?

Do they console, or condemn, or perhaps do they pray?

No, the voices are angry, they shout and they grow,

They say who to blame, and call out the foe.


Though I know in my heart there is more to their call,

There must be a reason for their frustration and gall,

Yet still in my heart, I feel a fear rise like a flame,

It’s the path leading on from anger and blame.


We know where it leads, that pathway I fear,

We saw it before, for too many years,

The worst of it is, the ones on this track

Have lived through it already, so why drag us back?


I watch the events now unfolding at ease,

And see foolish leaders, who can’t see wood for the trees,

Just what will it take for their anger to quell?

Why can’t they just listen, and let their hearts swell?


I guess I’m just worried, at decisions we take,

Always remaking the exact same mistakes.

I just want to look forward with faith and not rage,

Know our future is free and not locked in a cage.


My soliloquy now finished, the old man leaned in near,

Your truth you have spoken, it was a privilege to hear,

I know you are worried, and I know you are scared,

But just hear me out, and we’ll take it from there.


The world only moves forward, it can never reverse,

Regardless of those who shout, scream or curse,

They are the ones resisting the tide,

But it’s just their own fears, and their own foolish pride.


Remember there is only so much you can do,

You can’t fix it all, but you can start anew,

So now every day when you rise from your bed,

Give thanks for each one, your foe and your friend.


Embrace all your fear and your worries and doubt,

And don’t be afraid to cry, wail or shout.

You are only human, and so let it be heard,

Tame the savageness of man and make gentle the world.


The old man he stood and then shook my hand,

Don’t worry my friend and don’t fear for your land.

For the Spirit of Possibility, is alive in your heart,

So now go move forward and now make a start.


Tell your truth in all those places you’ll go,

Bring love to the fearful and the ones filled with woe.

Let your own heart-truth be your battle cry,

Let it reach to all corners and soar up to the sky.


Seek out the ones who will not agree,

Don’t let them slink off and don’t let them flee,

Make sure that they listen and make sure they know,

If they can’t work together, then they’ll just have to go.


Help others to see past their ego and rage,

Collective future assured, like birds out of a cage,

Build up the home where violence will cease,

Build it up a home of democracy and peace.


So keep your heart gentle and keep your heart kind,

And always remember, look after your mind.

Minister Poots and Belfast Lord Mayor to join climate activists at TEDxStormont Countdown

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl will join the TEDxStormont Countdown to discuss her commitments to responding to the Climate Emergency.

TEDxStormont Countdown is set to return with a thought-provoking event at the Long Gallery, Stormont on Thursday 4 November.

Coinciding with the COP26 Conference happening in Glasgow, TEDxStormont Countdown will bring together some of Northern Ireland’s leading climate change advocates to discuss and share ideas on how best to tackle the global emergency.

TEDxStormont Countdown is a part of TED’s global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action.

Minister Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA will deliver remarks on his Department’s response to the growing climate pandemic.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Kate Nicholl, who is taking on a Climate Pledge every month of her mayoral term, will deliver a TED talk on her commitments to making Belfast a greener society while looking to what more local governments can do to promote positive climate changes.

Other speakers include Translink’s Group CEO Chris Conway, and podcaster and climate change activist Rosalind Skillen who will delve into how younger generations are taking action and responding in creative ways to the climate emergency.

John Gilliland, Director of Global Agriculture and Sustainability at Devenish Nutrition will look at how businesses are looking at green and sustainable business models to help the bid to cut carbon emissions by 2050.

RSPB Northern Ireland will be unveiling the winning artworks from their Artist of the Year Competition and its Director will be making a presentation on why it’s time to act ambitiously and urgently to address the nature and climate emergency.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Kate Nicholl said:

“As a passionate environmentalist, I’m delighted to be part of this important event and use my platform as Lord Mayor to help bring a renewed focus to the urgent need to take action on climate.”

“It’s my hope that the Countdown initiative and upcoming COP26 conference will act as catalysts for mobilising action here in Belfast, and to bring focus to this important issue and galvanise our city’s own climate action plan.”

Curator of TEDxStormont, Eva Grosman said:

“It is becoming more and more apparent urgent action is required to tackle the climate change emergency. The Countdown initiative is the ideal opportunity for Northern Ireland’s climate change and environmental leaders from a range of sectors to join together to discuss and action the key solutions that will prevent further damage to our environment.”

“TEDxStormont Countdown live is set to return to coincide with the COP26 conference to raise even more awareness of the climate crisis and will provoke our leaders in Government and beyond to think ahead to what must be done to save the planet for good. We are thrilled to be joined by some of Northern Ireland’s best climate champions including Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Kate Nicholl, activist Rosalind Gillen, poet and writer Nandi Jola, and sustainable living advocate, Susan McEwen to discuss and share fresh ideas on how best to tackle this global emergency.”

“There is no short-term solution for this emergency – TEDxStormont aims to provide ideas that can last and sustain the planet for many more generations to come.”

TEDxStormont Countdown is supported  by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, RSPB NI and Translink.

Tickets for the online stream of TEDxStormont Countdown can be found:


The Art of Listening Webinar | 19 October | 3pm – 4pm

Join us for the webinar on The Art of Listening

Tuesday, 19 October | 3pm – 4pm

Lord Alderdice in conversation with Padraig O’Malley and Graham Spencer about the importance of listening in conflict resolution.

Register HERE.

John, Lord Alderdice is a psychiatrist who, as Leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party was one of the key negotiators of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, then first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly, and subsequently one of four international Commissioners who oversaw security normalization in Ireland.  A member of the House of Lords since 1996 and Convenor of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords during the Coalition Government, he was President of Liberal International – the global federation of liberal parties – and currently has various appointments at the University of Oxford including as Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict. Lord Alderdice is also the Chairman Emeritus of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building.

Padraig O’Malley is an Irish peacemaker, author and professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston who specializes in the problems of divided societies, such as South Africa and Northern Ireland. He has written extensively on these subjects and has been actively involved in promoting dialogue among representatives of differing factions.

Graham Spencer is Professor of Social and Political Conflict at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He has worked extensively with conflict groups in Northern Ireland and published widely on the peace process. His recent books include Inside Accounts: The Irish Government and Peace in Northern Ireland, from Sunningdale to the Good Friday Agreement (Vol 1) and from the Good Friday Agreement to the fall of power-sharing (Vol 2), Manchester University Press (2020); The British and Peace in Northern Ireland, Cambridge University Press (2015); and From Armed Struggle to Political Struggle: Republican Tradition and Transformation in Northern Ireland, Bloomsbury (2015).


Anthony Miller encourages public to accept themselves as ‘enough’ in final TEDxStormont Studio talk

Celebrity columnist and law lecturer Anthony Miller has delivered the final of 12 TEDxStormont Studio talks which have taken place virtually throughout the summer 2021.

The talk, which will go live on Friday, looks at the idea of one being ‘enough’ and how the public can come to terms with who they are through the successes and losses in life.

The TEDxStormont Studio talks was aimed at encouraging the public to have a better understanding of themselves and the world around them, while also bringing together brilliant minds to change attitudes on some of today’s hot topic issues.

The series was kicked off by Belfast-based GP Dr Gareth Patterson who shared powerful testimony on his experience of Gay Conversion Therapy. Other speakers have included Irish cellist, Patrick Dexter, broadcaster turned pilgrim guide, Martina Purdy, founder of Craic NI, Eileen Chan-Hu, producer and writer Henrietta Norton and Rio Ferdinand Foundation Ambassador Leo Brown.

Curator of TEDxStormont, Eva Grosman said:

“The incredible and fascinating stories, lived experiences and ideas that have been shared with us through the Studio series have simply been an honour to be part of. Our twelve speakers have opened up and let us all into small parts of their lives, and inspired audiences across the globe.”

“In the past months, we have heard about a number of tough topics including conversion therapy, childhood trauma, and discrimination. But we have also heard hopeful messages of self-discovery and unimaginable resilience which have been lessons for us all. I hope that our audiences have enjoyed the talks as much as we had making them.

“TEDxStormont is always proud to a platform to those unique voices and ideas. This year we have been thrilled to have a summer packed with insightful and meaningful talks that have laid bare the spectrum of human emotion and have motivated our audiences to drive change. It has been an exceptional year with exceptional speakers.”

Lost Treasures of Revolution: The Graphics of Solidarity 1980-89

Lost Treasures of Revolution: The Graphics of Solidarity 1980-89

22 September 2021 – 8 October 2021

The Barn Gallery, St John’s College, University of Oxford, Oxford

Free Admission


Solidarity was one of the biggest social movements of the 20th century. As the leading political force opposing communism in Poland during the 1980s, it paved the way for a peaceful transition to democracy in 1989. This exhibition explores the role that graphics played in building the movement and sustaining it during the difficult days of government repression and martial law. From its iconic logo to spontaneous poster designs and underground ephemera, Solidarity’s printed graphics created a rich visual culture of resistance that spoke to people from all walks of society. By getting involved in making and circulating these items, often at great personal risk, many ordinary people participated in the collective and transformative work of opposition.

‘Lost Treasures of Revolution’ brings together 25 Solidarity poster designs reproduced from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum alongside a selection of original badges and rarely seen underground stamps that bear witness to the grassroots creative spirit of the movement in the 1980s. The exhibition concludes with a separate display of posters and graphics from current global social movements and community projects important from the English-speaking countries’ perspective. These prompt us to consider what graphic design can do in our time to build movements and foster participation and political dialogue.

Catherine Flood, the exhibition curator, says “As well as famous poster designs, we are delighted to be showing a collection of underground postage stamps and graphic ephemera that provide vivid evidence of Solidarity’s multi-dimensional appeal in the 1980s. Most of these items were produced at a grassroots community level on small underground presses by designers and ordinary citizens working with few resources to create a new democratic beginning. As issues of social inequality and alienation are thrown into sharp relief by the pandemic, it is timely to reflect on the means by which social movements can bring people together through collective action.”

The exhibition is a part of the Annual Conference of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict (CRIC) held each year at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford.  This year, from 20th to 22nd September 2021, in addition to research reports from CRIC members, the conference will explore the post-pandemic world through the lens of ‘Solidarity’.  Speaking about the event, the Director of CRIC, Lord Alderdice said: ‘We all look forward to a post-pandemic world, albeit one where we will still have to cope with the virus for the foreseeable future. The Black Death in the 14th century resulted in the end of the feudal system. Will the COVID pandemic bring about a radical resetting of life and societies around the world?  Just over forty years ago, the formation of the Solidarność trade union in Poland heralded major societal and geopolitical change not only in Poland but around the world, including the Peace Processes in South Africa, Israel/Palestine, and Northern Ireland.  Under our conference theme – Beyond COVID – Solidarity or Fragmentation we will explore what can we learn from past events about the processes of major societal change as well as what we may expect is possible post-COVID?”. 

The exhibition has been organised in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and St John’s College, University of Oxford.

Learn more HERE.

The Spirit of Possibility | 2 September | LIVE from Stormont

Join us on 2 September 2021 from 9.30am to 12.45pm, LIVE from Stormont to celebrate the launch of the new Fellowship programme, meet the Fellows and explore the Spirit of Possibility with present and future leaders in NI and beyond.

The symposium is the first step in an ambitious effort to cultivate a spirit of possibility. This is a new conversation, one that realises the potential for innovation, but starts with sharing ideas and perspectives from leaders in political, local government, business, community and civic realms.

In view of the combined and complex effect of globalisation, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the UK exit from the EU, the symposium will explore:

• What are the collective challenges NI leaders face now and in the future?
• Why should the leaders of NI collectively cultivate a spirit of possibility?
• How can this spirit of possibility address what needs to change in the future?

Speakers including:

Amanda Ferguson, Journalist and Broadcaster
Baroness Margaret Ritchie
Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU
David Clements, Fujitsu NI
Sir David Sterling
Eva Grosman, CDPB
John Healy, Allstate NI
Professor Karise Hutchinson
Kate Nicholl, Belfast Lord Mayor
Louise Warde Hunter, Belfast Metropolitan College
Nick Coburn, Ulster Carpets
Tara Grace Connolly, UN Youth Delegate

Register for HERE.


CDPB launches new Fellowship programme for mid-career political and civic leaders

The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building has today launched a prestigious new Fellowship programme to support, develop and build the capacity of 24 mid-career leaders in civic society, business, and politics in Northern Ireland.

Opening for applications today, the programme aims to strengthen democratic institutions and ensure that the current and future cadres of political and civic leaders in Northern Ireland are best placed to lead into the next decade and navigate through complexity and challenges.

The Fellowship is delivered by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB), working with key stakeholders and facilitators from the business sector and leading academic institutions. The programme is supported by Allstate NI, Devenish, FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, Ulster Carpets, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In discussions with leading policymakers, academics, business leaders and public figures, Fellows will engage with global social, political and economic issues and seek to develop their understanding of how to tackle those issues in Northern Ireland. This includes a conversation with former NI Assembly Speaker Lord Alderdice on conflict, complexity, and cooperation and engagement with renowned Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama and award-winning Turkish-British novelist and women’s rights activist Elif Shafak, set to discuss global divisions. The programme’s Advisory Board, which includes prominent Northern Irish business leaders, will curate sessions seeking to re-imagine leadership in Northern Ireland.

The chosen participants will study at the internationally renowned Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. The School’s Dean, Professor Ngaire Woods, who specialises in international governance and was awarded a CBE for services to Higher Education and Public Policy in 2018, will lead participants through discussions on strategic communications in polarised contexts with application for both here and abroad.

Through collaboration with leading academics and practitioners such as Professor of Practice in the Management of Public Organisations at Blavatnik and a former Constitution Director at the UK Government, Ciaran Martin, the Fellowship will help our civic, business, and political leaders deliver better outcomes for the communities and organisations they serve.

Those interested can complete the Fellowship application form at HERE where they will be asked to upload their CV and a short essay.

The Fellowship’s Advisory Board includes:

  • John Healy, Managing Director at Allstate NI (Chair)
  • Professor Karise Hutchinson, Professor of Leadership at Ulster University (Vice-Chair).
  • Darragh McCarthy, CEO, FinTrU;
  • Owen Brennan, Chairman, Devenish;
  • Deepa Mann-Kler, CEO, Neon and Visiting Professor, Ulster University;
  • David Clements, Managing Director, Fujitsu NI;
  • Nick Coburn, Managing Director, Ulster Carpets.

John Healy, Managing Director at Allstate NI and Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

“I am thrilled to be launching the Fellowship today, a brilliant initiative which promises to give our political and civic leaders the knowledge, skills and relationships they require to lead Northern Ireland into the next decade. The chosen 24 candidates will engage in a bespoke programme of academic, leadership and communication development working alongside the UK and Ireland’s brightest minds in a range of fields. I look forward to working with Karise and the wider Advisory Board over the coming months as we work to implement the first of many successful Fellowship programmes in Northern Ireland.”

Karise Hutchinson, Professor of Leadership at Ulster University and Vice-Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

“Since its establishment in 1998, the Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended many times. Governance arrangements here continue to be fragile, and supporting our political, civic and business leaders has never been more important. The Fellowship programme offers participants the opportunity to engage with leading public figures and University of Oxford academics, to help them deliver better outcomes for the people they serve or the organisation they are a part of. Successful applicants will take part in an excellent programme giving them the confidence and ability they require to address Northern Ireland’s economic, social and political challenges going forward. I am very proud to be supporting this fantastic programme alongside my colleagues in the Advisory Board, and I would encourage all those eligible to apply soon.”