New Belfast/Good Friday Agreement online course launched

To mark the International Day of Peace, CDPB has launched a brand-new online interactive course on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Designed for educating a global audience on Northern Ireland’s peace process, the course is open to anyone interested in British-Irish history and the Good Friday Agreement.

With support from Dormant Accounts NI and developed by renowned journalist and broadcaster Mark Devenport, photographer Frankie Quinn, and with academic input from Professor Peter Shirlow of the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, the interactive course takes participants on a journey through Northern Ireland’s peace process, exploring the Agreement’s historical context, with particular focus on the Troubles, the negotiation process from which it emerged as well as the successes, failures, and lessons of the Agreement, twenty-five years on from this landmark moment in British-Irish history.

The course will also be offered for free to the Asian University for Women, representing 17 different nationalities and including a cohort of Afghani women.

The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement online course aims to enlighten and inspire peacebuilders from across the world as a notable example for political and social progress.

More information about the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement online course can be found here:

Mark Devenport, broadcaster and political commentator, said:

“The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is not just a historical document to be studied, it is a living testament to the power of diplomacy and conflict resolution, and its lessons remain profoundly relevant for today’s world. Looking back over the 25 years since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement was signed, I am reminded of the beacon of peace and reconciliation that it is in British-Irish history. I trust that this online course, curated for the benefit of a diverse range of people from all walks of life, will be accessible and helpful in explaining the complexities of the history of this place and the dynamics of peacebuilding”.

Kamal Ahmad, Founder, Asian University for Women, added:

“I am so pleased that this course is being offered to our students at the Asian University for Women. Our institution’s mission is to educate and empower a diverse community of women, welcoming students from all backgrounds. Given that many of our students can relate to the experiences of conflict in Northern Ireland, offering them the opportunity to study a successful peace process, despite its challenges and imperfections, is truly inspiring. I am certain that learning about the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement will imbue our future leaders with optimism and hope for a bright future”.

Baroness Margaret Ritchie, Chair, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, said:

“With the launch of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement online course, the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building has opened a gateway to history for many individuals across the world, offering a transformative educational journey which transcends borders. By extending knowledge and fostering understanding, it is my hope that this course will empower a global community of peacemakers by drawing on Northern Ireland’s experience as a prime example of progress and reconciliation”.

Twenty-four political, business, and civic leaders selected for Fellowship Programme

Twenty-four leaders from politics, the business community and civic society across Northern Ireland gathered at Parliament Buildings today for the launch of the Fellowship Programme.

The Fellowship Programme is designed to enhance Fellows’ skills and expertise, with a focus on navigating complexities encountered in leadership in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Backed by some of the most successful businesses in Northern Ireland including Allstate NI, Camlin Group, FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, NIE Networks, and Ulster Carpets, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Irish American Partnership, the Fellowship Programme is delivered by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building in partnership with distinguished academics and practitioners along with institutions, including Oxford University and the Royal Irish Academy.

Now in its third year, the six-month programme will see the Fellows undertake workshops, seminars and training in Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Dublin and Oxford, which will include media training sessions in a newsroom environment, workshops on climate, energy and sustainability, as well as conflict management and negotiation skills. This year’s cohort of leaders will have the opportunity to engage with academic and business leaders, public figures and policymakers to learn how to tackle some of the most pressing social, political and economic issues in Northern Ireland.

Speakers at the announcement of the new Fellows included Head of the NI Civil Service, Jayne Brady, Fellowship alumna Diane Forsythe MLA, economist and author Michael O’Sullivan, as well as Ulster University Professor Karise Hutchinson.

John Healy, Chair of the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

“The Fellowship Programme which runs each year is a unique opportunity to gather ambitious leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop their own leadership and spark new conversations for progress and innovation in Northern Ireland”.

“In the absence of a functioning government here, a programme like the Fellowship is vital for a time like this as it encourages leaders to have difficult conversations and overcome obstacles together. We need to invest in the game changing potential of our leaders and the Fellowship is a purposeful way of doing just that”.

“It is heartening to see more leaders come forward with a desire to engender change in Northern Ireland whether that be in the political, business or civic sphere, and I am looking forward to watching each Fellow develop and grow over the next six months”.

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

“This is a programme that this fills me with great optimism for Northern Ireland’s future. Despite our current political stalemate, I am excited to watch this year’s cohort learn from each other’s unique experiences and work together to envisage and imagine solutions and progress for this place that we call home. The Fellowship is a prime opportunity to put our differences aside, form unlikely friendships, and recognise a greater agenda where we can all work towards a shared goal. I am proud to be supporting the launch of this year’s cohort alongside my esteemed colleagues on the Advisory Board”.

The 24 participants of the 2023 CDPB Fellowship programme include:

  • Cllr Rachel Ashe Councillor for Comber DEA (APNI), Ards and North Down Borough Council
  • Lisa Beers, Head of Social Value Unit, Strategic Investment Board
  • Cllr Cheryl Brownlee, Councillor for Carrick Castle DEA (DUP), Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
  • Jason Bunting, Parliamentary Advisor for Sinéad McLaughlin MLA (SDLP)
  • Cllr Sarah Bunting, Councillor for Balmoral DEA (DUP), Belfast City Council
  • Dorinnia Carville, Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Audit Office
  • Anne Clarke, Finance Business Partner, NIE Networks
  • Beverley Copeland Director, Organisation Development, Ulster Carpets
  • Gareth Edwards, Vice-President, FinTrU Ltd
  • Deborah Erskine MLA, Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA (DUP)
  • Martin Fisher, Head of Northern Ireland, Irish League of Credit Unions
  • Chloe Ferguson, President, NUS-USI (National Union of Students UK in Northern Ireland)
  • Ciarán Fox, Director, Royal Society of Ulster Architects
  • Amy Gribbon, Project Manager, Forthspring Inter Community Group
  • Chris Leech, Community Transformation Coordinator, Emmanuel Church
  • Cllr Tierna Kelly Councillor for Rowallane DEA (APNI) Newry, Mourne & Down District Council
  • Martin McAuley, Director of Communications, Social Democratic and Labour Party
  • Christopher McConnell, Head of Programmes, Engagement & Impact, Department for Communities
  • Paula McKernan, Barrister-at-Law, The Bar of Northern Ireland
  • Adriana Morvaiova Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, Sensata Technologies
  • Eileen Mullan, Chair, Southern Health and Social Care Trust
  • Áine Murphy MLA, Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA (Sinn Féin)
  • Janet Schofield, CEO, CAN (Compass Advocacy Network Ltd)
  • Roísín Wood, CEO, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland