Stitching our Stories with the Women Weavers of Mampuján

CDPB is delighted to partner with the Colombian Embassy in the UK, Ulster University and Conflict Textiles to host a workshop on the occasion of the Women Weavers of Mampuján visit to Belfast this November. The new Colombian Ambassador to the UK HE Roy Barreras Montealegre will also be visiting NI to meet with the political, community and business representatives and to deliver a lecture at Ulster University.

At the heart of the workshop are the Women Weavers of Dreams and Flavours of Peace of Mampuján. Hailing from the war-torn region of Montes de Maria in Colombia, this group of displaced women turned to the art of tapestry as a means of healing and storytelling. Rather than conventional quilts, they sewed their stories onto large tapestries drawing on Afro-Caribbean storytelling and local textile art traditions, vividly depicting the atrocities they endured as a community and their displacement experiences. The women credit the process with being central to their process of healing and re-building, enabling them to come together and to share their pain, to commemorate and to start looking forward.

The Stitching our Stories: Displacement, Healing, New Possibilities workshop, facilitated by Breege Doherty and Eva Gonzalez of Conflict Textiles, will take place on Thursday, 23rd November at Ulster University’s Belfast Campus.

The event organised in partnership with Conflict Textiles and Ulster Presents promises to be a celebration of resilience, creativity, and shared narratives. It is free of charge, and you can sign up via the Eventbrite link below. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

The workshop aims to facilitate the sharing of stories, emphasising themes of conflict, displacement, healing, individual and collective navigation of these challenges, and the opportunities they now pursue in a rapidly changing world. Additionally, attendees will have the privilege of hearing the Women Weavers of Mampuján recount their journey of establishing the Museum of Art and Memory in Mampuján, shedding light on the power of art and memory in reconciliation. Participants will also engage in a creative exercise, crafting arpillera dolls representing elements of these shared stories, with the final creations set to be presented at the Colombian Ambassador to the UK’s lecture at Ulster University.

Overall, the workshop promises to be a poignant exploration of art, memory, and the resilience of women from diverse corners of the world.

Stitching our Stories: Displacement, Healing, New Possibilities

Thursday, 23rd November | 10am to 5pm
Room BA-00-21, Ulster University, Belfast Campus
Register at:

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
  • NIE Networks Backs Fellowship

    The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building is proud to announce NIE Networks as a supporting partner of our 2023-2024 Fellowship programme, with Chief Executive, Derek Hynes, and Gordon Parkes, Executive Director – People & Culture, joining the Fellowship’s Advisory Board.

    The Fellowship Programme would not be possible without the guidance of our Board and our supporting partners, so we are grateful to benefit from the invaluable insight of the senior leadership team at NIE Networks.

    Over the coming months, NIE Networks will be backing and hosting expert-led sessions with the Fellows at locations such as Oxford University and Derry / Londonderry covering topics such as climate, energy, sustainability and leadership.

    Derek Hynes, Managing Director, and Gordon Parkes, Executive Director, People & Culture at NIE Networks, who both join the Fellowship Advisory Board, said:

    “We are thrilled to join the Fellowship Advisory Board for the next three years. The Fellowship is unique as it brings together civic, political and business leaders from different backgrounds to learn from each other. Our most important challenges in Northern Ireland need all parts of the economy and society working together. This group of leaders has the potential to make a real difference for Northern Ireland, and their commitment to the Fellowship programme will no doubt lead to positive outcomes. We at NIE Networks are delighted to be able to help create a shared approach to leadership in Northern Ireland.”

    Camlin Group Chief Executive Joins Fellowship Advisory Board

    We are pleased to announce Peter Cunningham, Chief Executive of Camlin Group, as our newest addition to the Fellowship Advisory Board.

    Peter joins the Advisory Board at an exciting time, as we prepare to launch the 2023-24 programme next month. We are also thrilled to announce Camlin Group as a supporting partner.

    Employing approx. 600 people worldwide, Camlin Group is an innovative and world-leading company with headquarters in Northern Ireland, which works to optimise the critical infrastructure that helps to make electricity and rail networks safer, more efficient, resilient and sustainable.

    The Fellowship Programme would not be possible without the guidance of our Board and our supporting partners, so we grateful to benefit from Peter’s invaluable insight and Camlin’s backing.

    Commenting on the appointment to the Fellowship Advisory Board, Peter Cunningham, Chief Executive, Camlin Group said:

    “The Fellowship is a unique and inspiring programme for political, business and civic leaders in Northern Ireland who come together to learn, explore and develop new ideas and solutions to some of the most pressing policy issues facing NI and the wider world. It is an honour to be joining the Advisory Board of the Fellowship Programme delivered by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB).”

    “At Camlin we firmly believe in trying to do the right thing coupled with the power of working together as two of our core company values, alongside our company purpose ‘to engineer better futures’, all of which this fellowship programme absolutely embodies. I’m excited to work with these incredible leaders to help make Northern Ireland a hopeful and prosperous place to live for future generations.”

    When the Fellowship Programme is the inspiration for a £4.6mn programme to address disability employment

    I enrolled on the CDPB Fellowship Programme as an opportunity for personal development and to consider ways in which civic society organisations can have a greater role in driving forward a sustainable peace. While the Fellowship Programme did provide opportunities to develop, grow and inform peace building, it has offered so much more.

    The Fellowship Programme includes a unique assessment process in which leaders from across the region work together to identify a societal challenge and then seek to address that challenge. This process, Design Thinking, was delivered by Fujitsu and included a full day session at the Oxford residential. The persistent cost of living emergency, political impasse and public finance crisis were the backdrop to my group’s work. Together as a group of cross-sectoral leaders, we considered how the current societal context would impact upon disabled people and disabled person’s organisations.The challenge was vast and multi-faceted.

    While this is a complex issue, the Design Thinking process kept disabled people at the heart of the challenge. The process identified that while funding and investment were important, disabled people wanted credible employment opportunities and ways to develop entrepreneurship. From this the seeds of the Empower programme were planted. Empower is a £4.6mn programme funded by the UK government and will support two thousand disabled, autistic and/or neurodivergent people to secure careers across all sectors and all levels of careers, including those who seeking to be entrepreneurs. Some of the Fellowship Programme’s partners are also partners in the programme, including Allstate NI, alongside Empower’s lead partners USEL, Disability Action and Specialiststerne.

    Overall, the Design Thinking process was crucial to establishing the Empower programme. My group of cross-sectoral leaders were able to critically engage with this complex issue to identify multiple opportunities and provide the infrastructure to drive the programme forward. Further collaborative action and access to decision makers informed the decision of the UK government to increase the amount of funding available through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Throughout the process to obtain funding, Design Thinking was vital to ensuring two thousand disabled, autistic and/or neurodivergent people will receive essential support in the midst of our current societal context.

    Nuala Toman, class of 2022-23 Fellow

    Design Thinking session was delivered by Fujitsu.

    Cultural Diplomacy Symposium – 29 June 2023, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

    What is the role of the cultural diplomacy in our polarised and divided world? How can we foster a better understanding between cultures and nations? How can cultural diplomacy pave the way for wider cooperation and dialogue?

    Hochhauser Auditorium
    Victoria and Albert Museum, London
    29 June 2023 | 10am – 5pm

    This one-day symposium on cultural diplomacy provides a unique opportunity to gain practical insights and hear from former and current diplomats, art professionals and academics.

    Together we will examine the role of cultural diplomacy and international relations, learn how we can foster effective diplomatic practices, examine positive stakeholder engagement, and explore how the arts and culture can enrich social cohesion in Britain and beyond.

    This event is organised by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute in London and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

    Sessions including:

    • Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations
    • Cultural Diplomacy in Action: Fostering Effective Diplomatic Practices
    • Changing Britain: Art, Culture and Society
    • Art of Healing
    • Connecting Cultures: Cultural Diplomacy and Stakeholder Engagement
    • Making It Happen


    • Dan Mulhall, former Irish Ambassador to US, UK and Germany, Parnell Fellow, Magdalene College, Cambridge
    • Lord Alderdice, Executive Chairman, Changing Character of War, Pembroke College, Oxford
    • Adriana Sandoval, Cultural Attaché, Colombian Embassy
    • Anaïs Aguerre, Culture Connect
    • Cian Smyth, Ulster Presents
    • Evgeniya Ravtsova, Victoria and Albert Museum
    • Marta de Zuniga, Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in London
    • Roisin Inglesby, William Morris Gallery

    (more to be announced)

    Centre for Democracy and Peace Building launches new intake for Fellowship Programme

    The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building has opened applications for its 2023-2024 Fellowship Programme for leaders in politics, business, and civic society in Northern Ireland.

    The Fellowship Programme is supported by the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, some of Northern Ireland’s biggest employers including Allstate NI, FinTrU, Fujitisu NI, Devenish, NIE Networks and Ulster Carpets, and the Irish American Partnership. It aims to support and equip participants to take on some of Northern Ireland’s most complex political, business, and civic challenges.

    Through bespoke sessions delivered by leaders and individuals in the top of their field such as former adviser to three prime ministers and the Principal of Hertford College at Oxford, Tom Fletcher, and former Irish diplomat, Tim O’Connor, Fellows are challenged to step outside of their comfort zone, with sessions including in-studio media training with Northern Ireland’s largest commercial radio broadcaster, conflict management with the PSNI, as well as residential sessions at Oxford University and in Dublin.

    The unique programme is delivered by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, focus on innovation and capacity building, and encourage collaborative decision-making.

    Past participants of the Fellowship Programme include Diane Forsythe MLA, Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA, Pádraig Delargy MLA, and Connie Egan MLA, Director at Diversity Mark, Nuala Murphy, and Head of Policy and Engagement at the Law Society, Jamie Warnock.

    Applications for Centre for Democracy and Peace Building 2023-2024 will close on Friday 23 June. To apply or to find out more, visit:

    Fellowship Advisory Board Chair, John Healy, said:
    “The Fellowship Programme is a fantastic opportunity to gather ambitious leaders from diverse backgrounds and spark new conversations about the future of Northern Ireland. It has been a privilege to watch each cohort overcome difficulties and grow together in their abilities. Their open-mindedness, optimism and dedication to seeing Northern Ireland progress and truly prosper has been inspiring. I would encourage anyone who wants to enhance their own leadership ability, or who simply wants to learn from other leaders from different walks of life, to apply for this programme”.

    Fellowship Alumna and Director at Diversity Mark, Nuala Murphy, added:
    “Taking part in the Fellowship Programme has been one of my greatest achievements. I invested in the experience from start to finish, especially the completely unique opportunity to collectively seek out how to build a better future for all in Northern Ireland so that we can live up to our giant potential. The Fellowship has given me renewed hope for this place we call home, especially in my work in diversity and inclusion via Diversity Mark. I am confident in our future leaders’ ability to help this place we call home to evolve into a truly inclusive place to live, to grow up, to bring up a family, or to start a business, embracing the diversity of all our communities, our cultures, and our identities. That’s the renewed start that this place needs and it’s one I’m really excited to be part of in the future”.

    Fellowship Alumnus and Chair, Migrant and Minority Ethnic Council & The African and Caribbean Leadership Consortium, Alfred Abolarin, said:
    “Being part of last year’s Fellowship cohort was a great honour. Not only have I had the chance to learn and develop but I have had the opportunity to build relationships with so many individuals. I feel better equipped to build on the successes of the organisations I am affiliated with and contribute positively to navigating through difficult and complex issues that society contend with. A highlight for me was seeing people from different backgrounds and with different viewpoints come together to learn with a shared aim to see Northern Ireland thrive”.

    Centre for Democracy and Peace Building Annual Report 2022 – 2023


    This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in N Ireland/Ireland, which was been celebrated by the visitations and addresses by current and former Presidents of the United States of America, current and former Prime Ministers of the UK, current and former Taoisigh of the Republic of Ireland and the President of the European Commission.

    Notwithstanding the important events that have taken place earlier this year, it is important to remember that democracy, reconciliation and peacebuilding is an ongoing daily process and not an one off event. In that respect I hope that peace efforts here in N Ireland will continue to bear fruit which will reflect unity in diversity in all aspects of our lives, and in our institutions of government, which I hope can be restored shortly.

    As we mark this important anniversary on the island of Ireland, there has never been a greater need across the world for people to work for democracy and reconciliation and to continuously participate in peacebuilding. We have witnessed ongoing terror and violence in Ukraine and a war waged against innocent people and democratic political institutions. Only lately, we have seen the horrors of terrorism and violence in Sudan and Yemen. All the violence perpetrated against communities and people is underlining the compelling imperative and importance of the ongoing process of democracy and peacebuilding.

    Centre for Democracy and Peace Building continues to be involved in important work in supporting current and future leaders. Our work encompasses the important Fellowship programme, which is aimed at political, business and civic leaders in Northern Ireland who were and will continue to be involved in paving a new, prosperous future for our region. This flagship programme is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin, Allstate NI, Devenish, FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, Ulster Carpets, the Irish American Partnership and our new partner Norther Ireland Electricity Networks.

    Other important work includes the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement Course, Leadership in Arts and Culture, Re-thinking Leadership series, collaborative work with the UME Oleander Initiative programmes in Japan and the partnership with the John Smith Trust.

    All this work is carried out under the strategic direction of our Board – of which I am proud to be Chair along with my director colleagues, and the dynamic work of Eva Grosman who is our Chief Executive. Eva is a powerhouse and has provided dynamic leadership in these islands in terms of peacebuilding and democracy.

    We and the wider community owe Eva an enormous debt of gratitude and heartfelt thanks. I hope to continue to work with Eva, her team and our directors to ensure that the objectives of the organisation can continue to be fulfilled – particularly as we move on from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    We also owe a debt of gratitude to many business leaders and academics who have supported our mission and peacebuilding work over several years. Such combined efforts are vitally important in working towards fulfilling our commitments to democracy and peacebuilding locally and internationally.

    Baroness Margaret Ritchie of Downpatrick

    Hiroshima: City of Peace Study Visit

    CDPB collaborates with the UME Oleander Initiative to deliver the Art, Memory and Peace Programme in Hiroshima, Japan.

    On the 26 February, four delegates from Northern Ireland, Oxford and New York gathered in Hiroshima, Japan, to embark on a six day exploration of the city that suffered the horrors and destruction of the atomic bomb on 6 August 1945. At the heart of the UME Oleander Initiative programme was the intersection of public space, art and historical memory, with the guiding question for the five days; what lessons from Hiroshima can be applied to your own context?

    The delegation began its journey right at the very heart of Hiroshima, learning about the city through a guided tour of the Peace Park as well as a visit to the recently refurbished Peace Memorial Museum, focusing on the aftermath of the atomic bomb and how Hiroshima suffered, recovered and now prospers as a city of peace, seventy-eight years on. The A-bomb dome, found just outside the Peace Park, is the perfect illustration of Hiroshima’s resilience. The building, although smashed and shattered, remains standing for all to see. The interplay of hope and devastation is etched into the fabric of the city.

    The group also took a trip to Hifukushisho, a former Japanese Army clothing depot that housed over 2,000 workers and their families. The building survives to this day and is a point of contention in the city, reminding people of Hiroshima’s deep history as a military city prior to 1945. The preservation of the building highlights the complex issue of seeking to move on as a city of peace whilst acknowledging an uncomfortable past:

    The highlight of the trip was the day spent with Toshiko Tanaka. Toshiko-san is a hibakusha, a survivor of the atomic bomb. The delegates were able to hear her powerful retelling of 6 August 1945, a testimony marked by the juxtaposition of pain and suffering with hope and joy. To be able to sit down with a hibakusha and hear their testimony and ask questions is a rare opportunity and it was a real honour and privilege the delegation will never forget. The day also consisted of an enamel workshop with Toshiko-san, whose art has been showcased around the world, including the UN and the Vatican.

    CDPB would like to extend its thanks to the UME Oleander Initiative and its team for an excellent and impactful programme, underpinning the unique connection between Hiroshima has with Northern Ireland. We hope this trip is the first of many collaborative opportunities between CDPB and the UME Oleander Initiative.