DPI Roundtable ‘The Role of Media in Conflict Resolution’, Dublin and Belfast, 16-19 October 2018

On 16th October 2018, DPI brought a diverse group of members of the mainstream and alternative Turkish media to Dublin and Belfast to examine the role and place of the media in conflict resolution. Following on from our April meeting of the same theme, this roundtable provided a timely opportunity for participants to discuss ways in which the media can contribute to the advancement of democratic and peaceful dialogue in resolution processes.

On the 17th October, following an introduction and welcome from DPI CEO Kerim Yildiz, we were delighted to be joined by Aine Hearns, Director of their Conflict Resolution Unit from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who kindly acted as our hosts for this activity. Aine addressed the group, providing them with a concise outline of the multifaceted work of the Conflict Resolution Unit as well as highlighting the evolution of the media since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. We then heard from Maria Alejandra Villamizar Maldonado, Journalist, Conversa Colombia Foundation & former adviser to the Presidency for the pedagogy of peace. Drawing from her vast experience working as both a journalist and adviser to three different Colombian governments, Maria discussed what she saw to be the successes and failures of the media during the Colombian peace process, particularly focussing on the challenges of impartial reporting and the power of language in framing the peace process in the eyes of the public. The following session brought our attention back to the Northern Ireland case with speaker Derek Mooney, Communications Consultant and Former Irish Government Adviser (2004-2010), who has also been heavily involved in civil society. Derek shared with participants some of the key aspects of media-governmental communication during the Northern Irish peace process. Our final speaker, Danny Morrison, writer, political commentator & former national director of publicity, Sinn Féin, shared his first-hand experiences of interacting with the media during The Troubles. The Northern Irish example sparked insightful and fruitful discussion on topics such as journalistic principles, levels of media access to peace negotiations and the impact of the international, as well as local, media.

Following this meeting, on the 18th October, participants travelled to Belfast where they met with former political prisoners from the republican and loyalist communities, as well as an ex-British soldier. The group heard invaluable accounts of their experiences of The Troubles and engaged in a rich discussion on the impact of the divided communities on Belfast both before, during and after the peace process in Northern Ireland. This was further enhanced by going out and about to see the peace walls along the Falls and Shankhill roads that act as a visible reminder of these divides.

This roundtable was part of a series of activities planned in the context of the project: ‘Supporting inclusive dialogue at a challenging time in Turkey’, supported by the EU and the Irish, Netherlands and Norwegian governments. A full transcript report from this meeting will be produced and made available on the website.