Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Diffusion and Adaptation of Public Achievement in Northern Ireland †An Activist’s Perspective. :: Politics Political

The Diffusion and Adaptation of Public Achievement in Northern Ireland – An Activist’s Perspective Acknowledgements – This paper and its presentation was made possible by funding from the European Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, Measure 4.1, from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, Stormont, Belfast. The author would also like to acknowledge the assistance of his Northern Ireland based and international colleagues, and the patience beyond reason of his family, Kim, Raffy and Evie. ‘For years I would not let the dark gods of politics and religion possess me. Unlike many of my age and background, I had made that mythic leap and crossed the Jordan. My Protestant working-class background and all its shibboleths would not contain me. I chose to ask questions and not accept ready made answers. We discover our own answers if we have the will to do so; and if we are not afraid of the confrontation with ourselves that such a journey might entail. †¦Those who ‘cross the Jordan’ and seek out truth through a different experience from the one they are born to, ... theirs is the greatest struggle. To move from one cultural ethos into another, as I did, and emerge embracing them both demands more of a man than any armed struggle. For here is the real conflict by which we move into manhood and maturity. For unless we know how to embrace the other we are not men and our nationhood is wilful and adolescent. Those who struggle through turbulent Jordan waters have gone beyond the glib definitions of politics or religion. The rest remain standing on either bank firing guns at one another. I had had enough of gun-fire, the rhetoric of hate and redundant ideologies.’ Brian Keenan – An Evil Cradling (p16) Introduction In telling the story of Public Achievement in Northern Ireland, I want to employ 3 interweaving narratives – personal, organisational and societal. The organisational spans the period from May 1998 to the present (November 2003), as does much of the societal - though I will touch on some historical and more recent events and developments to illustrate this story. I approach the subject as a participant, a practitioner and one who has invested large chunks of my life in pursuit of more humane, democratic and life-enhancing ways of living in what has been a brutal and stunting place.

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