Georgetown Cohosts Cross-Party Delegation from Northern Ireland

The Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD) and Institute for Women, Peace and Security welcomed a distinguished group of civic leaders from across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland on March 16, 2016, to assess the accomplishments and remaining challenges of the peace process. The roundtable discussion was chaired by Ambassador Richard Norland, ISD State Department Senior Fellow, and included political party heads, mayors, police officials, university officials, business leaders, and others involved in the implementation of peace and reconciliation efforts, as well as the U.S. Consul General in Belfast and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. The group, which had been received at the White House the day before, detailed the significant progress made following the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement but noted a number of unfinished tasks: overcoming sectarian divisions while respecting group identity; addressing tensions raised by symbols of identity such as flags and parades; reintegrating former prisoners and further marginalizing those intent on resorting to violence; boosting educational and work prospects; and coming to terms with the emotional and societal effects of decades of violence. The comments revealed much optimism for the future, with one participant noting that the next students to enter university will be the first generation to grow up free of Northern Ireland’s “Troubles.”