A new radio series on the challenge of rebuilding community relationships in Northern Ireland begins tomorrow, Saturday 3 March, at 7.30 pm on RTE One. Titled ‘Picking up the Pieces’, the six-week series is researched and presented by Barbara Walshe, a graduate of the Irish School of Ecumenics’ Master’s in Reconciliation Studies.
Tomorrow night’s programme will explore the sometimes controversial involvement of ex-combatants in conflict resolution and reconciliation with Republican and Loyalist ex-prisoners, Gerry McConville, Jackie McDonald, Gerard Foster and Alistair Little.
Walshe, who is from the Republic of Ireland, was motivated to make the programmes in part because her year studying in Belfast convinced her that people in the Republic have:
‘switched off from developments in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement. But what’s taking place now is just as vital to the future of the whole peace process.’
Other programmes in the series will focus on peace building initiatives in sports, theatre, the churches, interface communities and border areas.
These are stories of hope – as Walshe says:
‘Some of the changes that have been place here recently were simply unimaginable ten years ago.’
But they are also challenging stories – because as anyone involved in this type of work is sure to know, peace in Northern Ireland still comes ‘dropping slow’ and reconciliation – however it is defined – is still a long way off.