tv Georgetown University Discussion on Civil Rights Movement in Northern... CSPAN December 19, 2018 11:22am-1:06pm EST
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this uniquely american institution. >> please raise your right hand -- >> wednesday, january 2nd, at 8:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. >> this year marks the 50th anniversary of northern ireland civil rights movement. island's ambassador to the u.s. joined several northern ireland civil rights activist -- activists in washington, d.c. and talked about how brexit could affect civil rights movement in the region. this is about an hour and a half. okay, good evening, everybody. so here we are at our final panel and what a lineup we have for you for the final panel. john lewis in across that bridge said every generation leaves behind a legacy.
what that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. what legacy do you want to leave behind? so for our final panel today we're talking about commemorating the history and legacy of a shared struggle for civil rights. we're talking about memory, about narrative, about future, and the work to be done. and what we're going to do is have each offous panelists come up first and for a few minutes share their reflections upon that theme and it is my great pleasure to introduce as our first speaker this evening, his excellency, daniel hall, the ambassador from the united states of america. dan has been ambassador in many places and served the irish foreign service from diverse places as malaysia and india, austria, scotland, brussels and also of course london before he came to america where they asked him if you could tolerate brexit, you can go to washington, d.c.
so please join me in welcoming his excellency ambassador dan hall. >> thank you. you are very kind. thank you. it is good to be here. i always think that the longer you go on, the more memory in history kind of merge. and i'm this kind of cost situation now where my first kind of really serious and sort of reflective memories are about 50 years old because i'm in my early 60s and therefore i kind of -- i remember things that happened in the '60s. the early '60s not so much but by the late '60s, certainly i was conscious of what was going on in the world. and the reason for that was because in those days watching the evening news was a kind of a quasireligious experience for people. certainly in my family.
my father was very interested in current affairs and the whole family had to sit down in the evening and watch the evening news. and you couldn't say a word between wherever it was, 6:00 and 6:15 and then in the evening later on for the 9:00 news. and also the 1:00 news on the radio was a kind of a big sort of thing as well. and there was no question of you doing anything other than concentrating on the news. and i was very interested in what was going on. so i responded to what was being said and i -- i can remember one of my first memories, even though i was only ten at the time, was the visit by sean le mass to belfast to meet terrance o'neill in '65. but from then on, certainly i can remember there were -- i came from waterford so we're a
fairly long way, and seemed like a long way from belfast because very few people traveled very much at that time. but i can remember that visit by the mass kind of generated a lot of enthusiasm. some of it was sort of maybe a bit trivial when looked back on. but i remember people talking around me about wouldn't it be great with this -- led to us having a single soccer team for the whole island of ireland. well the days of that best -- that would not be a considerable advantage for both sides -- both parts of the island, really. and i remember in '68, i suppose that was the first year when i really became conscience of what you might call the world of politics and public affairs. and i remember seeing what was happening. i could remember seeing the assassination of martin luther
king and assassination of robert kennedy and the great upheavals happening in america at that time and the student upheavals that took place right across that year. and then of course you had the student demonstrations in paris, which again were a nightly intrusion into our otherwise very quiet family home in waterford. and i remember being energized as far as a 13-year-old can be energized by anything, i think i was certainly -- my interest in what was happening was perked up by seeing that civil rights demonstrations didn't just happen in far away america or in sophisticated paris, but were actually happening on our own island and relatively close by.
and looking back on it now, i'm sort of wondering what you make of it. actually, i like anniversaries. i know some people think they're a dreadful imposition -- because i remember when i was in london, i was there for the centenary of the first world war and the outbreak of the war and for the east rising. and there were people who worried that these might cause serious problems that -- i remember meeting a senior person in britain there sort of end of 2015 who kind of talked in kind of -- apocalyptic terms about the potential east to rising commemoration to really stir things up in a nasty way in northern ireland. and that didn't happen. and i felt both commemorations
were quite positive things because they -- they got people thinking a bit about the various streams that flow into what my old teacher john montague called the wine dark of history. and we saw different perspectives in 1966 it was impossible to see anything other than the straightforward kind of pure and nationalist interpretation in but in 2016 almost any interpretation of those events was fine. people weren't necessarily convinced by it but they weren't offended by it either. so what can we say about the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement. well, i would say firstly that the civil rights movement was unfortunate that it -- that's impact on the evolution of ireland was very badly overshadowed by the 25 years of
violence that occurred between 1970 and 1994. and that is a misfortune. because i think -- i think this is an opportunity this year to kind of rediscover what was actually going on with the civil rights movement. and president higgins gave a very powerful speech there in october in derry. and he made the point that really the civil rights movement was part of a global movement towards greater respect for human rights and toward a new definition of human rights. and the speech is well worth reading. i have forgotten my glasses so i'm kind of struggling to read the section that i -- that i have in mind.
but what he said was that the civil rights movement was part of a global struggle for human rights. and i would say that in the tradition of daniel collins' struggle for emancipation and the president went on to say it incorporated a belief in the centrality of a nonviolence that was neither passive nor kwee essent and necessary to defy the forces of the state in the streets while refraining from conflict. so he said that nonviolence far more than violence required courage both moral and physical, and fortitude. he's a very profound speech by the president delivered in derry in october of this year. so the 50th anniversary of the
civil rights movement reminds us of what happened at that time. and reminds us of the sent ralt of nonviolence for the civil rights movement. and i think it's important to look back at that time and to realize that that was the -- that was the reality. that was where -- and that in a sense the violence that occurred between 1970 and the mid-90s was an aberration and something that was not in the tradition and that the civil rights tradition in other circumstances, in my view, had it been properly managed and handled by those in authority could have delivered very genuine transformation of society and president higgins
reminds us in that speech is that civil rights is not something that we should say is for people up there in the north. he also makes the point in his speech that in our state, in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, the a lot of the rights seen as precious for those involved in the revolutionary struggle of a hundred years ago got curtailed or even eliminated as the state became more and more introverted and followed a kind of a -- a path that didn't see civil rights in the classic sense as a particular priority. so it is also interesting that the anniversary of the civil rights movement coincides with the 100th anniversary today indeed of the election of december 1918 which transformed ireland and that was a time when the irish people in very large
numbers decided that they wanted to carve out a destiny for themselves as a separate nation, seeking to pursue our own goals in our own way within our own system. which is also in a way a kind of a bid for civil rights at that time. and then of course it also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the good fighting agreement. and it seems to me any way, my message for today would be that we should use the civil rights movement and the memory of that 50 years of those events 50 years ago as a reminder of what life was like on the island of ireland north and south by the way and perhaps the lack of respect for civil rights in both jurisdictions or at least a narrow definition of them. and the civil rights movement was really a -- probably the first time, by the way, in our
independent history of people in the south actually took an active interest and were actually galvanized and excited about what was happening in northern ireland because some saw links between struggles there and struggles that people thought needed to happen in our jurisdiction as well. so i think it is a reminder of how far we've come and of the vital needs to ensure that we don't allow the difficulties of the past couple of years and the impending complications that will be generated by brexit to undermine all that's been achieved over the past 20 years. because you know, in a way the good friday agreement with the heavy emphasis on rights of
various kinds is actually a legacy of the civil rights movement. albeit that it took a long time for the learning process to take root to the point where people were willing to find peaceful solutions to the problems that exist on our island but it is a reminder as well that today in a world which is increasingly characterized by rancor that there are values of the kind that were embedded in the civil rights movement in northern ireland that remain relevant today. and you know one of the things that makes me happy to represent today's ireland is that today we are a country where tolerance is genuinely prized. we are a country where people
seem to be quite relaxed about demographic and economic changes. we are a country where there is an openness, where our public debate is fairly sensible and civilized and doesn't seem to have succumbed to the kind of rancor as we've seen in other parts of the world. i'm not saying this will last forever. but i do think it is something we should be very much aware of, that we are -- we've evolved into a country hundreds of years after our independence that does feel comfortable with its place in europe and the world, has a mission to contribute to the resolution of problems both at a regional level in europe but
also internationally. and i would see that as a to some extent a legacy of all that has happened over the past 50 years, including the impact of the crisis in northern ireland and ultimately the discovery of a peaceful settlement of those problems which i would say can trace its roots back to the efforts of those who at times when it was difficult and dangerous to be involved in these kind of struggles were willing to respond with what the president acknowledged as a valor that is actually more essential to a peaceful civil rights movement than it is for a campaign of violence. thank you very much. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, ambassador mullhol. so next i'm going to ask ann
devlin to share her thoughts with us. she is a writer of short stories, of fiction and plays of course and one of those plays is performed in washington, d.c. many years ago. but ann was a school girl, a high school girl during the actual civil rights movement in northern ireland and she played a big part in that. her father played an enormous part in that. and then eventually ann left ireland and ireland never left ann. her fiction and her plays carried the story of those struggles for rights and the divide in ireland as well. so let's turn to ann and her reflections on this panel. >> thank you. do you mind i just want to go there. i just -- >> no, that's great. >> will drop my notes if i don't have a panel. thank you. okay. so i want to return to the subject of the good friday agreement.
this year i -- was asked because part of the work with the civil rights commemoration committee to go to my old school and speak to the school girls of my old school. it was an all girls convent on the falls road. and i did that in the company of a unionist politician called chris imagininski and set up by tim atwood from the stlp. but it was tricky, this business about going back to my old school, because the first thing i had to tell the school girls was that i bumped off school to go on civil rights marches. so that is the first thing. so it required an act of disobedience to be -- and the head mistress, the new head mistress a woman called carol sat in the front row the whole time watching me tell her girls this story and that eventually i was asked to leave by the nuns at the end of that year.
so this is not me going back covered in glory. >> not that day you were back at the school. >> no. so i go back and i explain to them that i went to the civil rights marches and on linden hall tree and the nuns were watching me on pictures on television and watching all of this and think if any of the rest of them do this we're sunk and so they threatened everybody. this is the background to this, to where i'm going to get to. they threatened everybody, that anyone who went would be expelled. so eventually i was persuaded to leave. in the background of all of that, i find it really hard going back into the school and i always said that i would have to explain this to begin with. what was very important about that was that in that period it for some -- i can't quite explain what the grip of this involvement was, but it had to be dealt with and it was what i did, this passion for politics at that time. and what was very interesting
about going back and talking to the girls and about the fact that i did eventually get myself back into further college and get to university, but there was no question that i was -- that my anti-authoritarianism and my opposition to people like captain terrance o'neill was as much about the captain and majors as part of a generational anti-militarism was also directed at the nuns, that i was also fighting with the nuns. and so this displacement of fighting with the nuns took the form of me walking in lindenhall street but it is part of it. so that day, when i finished explaining how i did eventually get back to university and the nuns were very glad to see the back of me, i have to say, they did -- they said you've got to leave because we don't want the rest of this -- they were terrified that the rest of the
school girls were going to, in 1969 and '68, were going to be on demonstrations. that was agreed, i would finish my year and go. and what was interesting is at the end of the description when i explained to the school girls who were all six form -- i suddenly realized that they had no idea of the beginning of the story that they were being told and this is the point that i'm trying to make, that we have to talk -- we have to go back and if you like revise and say what happened and gather up new information because the whole point was -- and one of the journeys i made was i went to the public records office and i discovered low and behold that the reverend d. paisley was under surveillance during the civil rights movement but the special branch attending his lectures and meetings in the hall, they weren't fired by the ira and had no difficulties because the campaign had
finished. they're fear as revealed in the records was that it was paisley and paisley -- and the paisley act they were worried about at that time. now that is a piece of information which was a revelation to me. that unionism was in crisis. that they were terrified of what was happening with terrance o'neill was very unpopular within the unionist party and didn't have much support. and it never occurred to me that there was a crisis in unionism. we were very busy looking at our own behavior. when i got to the end of this day at saint dominic's there was a -- there was a -- did anyone have any questions, we asked. and in fact what happened was there was total silence and then there was a quiet rush to the table. and the question was, what about the prisoners and were you not angry when the prisoners were released? and they were talking about the good friday agreement.
they had made in their heads the natural connection between what regard as the amnesty provided by the good friday agreement for all of the things that had gone before and the whole point is we have to accept that that was the deal and one of the problems i think we have is that what was amazing was when i said my reply was but we have the piece, we have peace, nobody should ever underestimate the importance of that peace. because no dialogue, no understanding will be arrived at while you are living under the shadow of a gump. no understanding. and that is the main thing for me, that that's where we are and that our legacy was this amnesty. but the intelligence of this amnesty. now i remember noting when they released the information i was in paris when the good friday agreement was signed and i saw it on television and i was very -- i was living in london and i happened to take the train
to paris for a few days and one of the things that became very clear to me when i looked at the pictures and i could see georgia mitchell and his wife and i could see as the camera went around the tables, there is a phrase -- edna longly used about the hopeful faces of the women's coalition and it is a pertinent phrase because the women's coalition having negotiated and worked really hard for the good friday agreement lost their -- didn't have the electoral support to remain. they didn't get, in my view, the recognition for their contributions so there is a big area of work there. but i was very taken by the fact that all of those in saint dominic school girls were so focused on what this was, what do you feel, because there is clearly an unease. so the point is we have to explain that. we have to open up my own belief
as well as there was a huge missed chance when the hasp talks broke down. it is a terrible loss in my view. we have to get back for a chance for people to go tell their stories about what was going on during that period because just as i find out about the early pressures and about what was happening in unionism, so it is quite important to know what everybody's story was. so these are very important things that people have to -- and here is the point. we didn't talk about what was going on. i remember i went back to belfast in the exact year that the good friday agreement was signed. it was amazing. but nobody was going to speak because of the legacy, because we'd agreed that all of the prisoners should be released and we accepted that amnesty but i know one of the things that was really hard was not saying what happened to you during that time. and everybody involved in those negotiations -- in those years
during the troubles, there wasn't a point where people were told, okay, you can speak now. because actually they couldn't speak. no one wanted to jeopardize the peace process by telling the story of what had happened to them. so there is a lot of a backlog of work that needs to be done in that way. and that is a very, very important issue. so i feel that's where we should be going next. we should be -- the finding out of what happened to the women's coalition, what has happened to the role of women and then actually what is really extraordinary and i'm going to finish on this, the civic society and we heard from your panel about how powerful your civic society work is, in belfast even though we don't have a current assembly sitting, the civic society isn't a dina mix which can not be stopped and
that is women's work as well. so we do -- so there is a tremendous amount going on and that will be where we have to look next. but the archive, the archive of the stories has to be dealt with. thank you. [ applause ] archive of the stories has to be dealt with. thank you. [ applause ] >> thanks. bruce morrison, you served as a congressman in this country, you were instrumental to the northern ireland peace process, you were a person who, more than anyone, persuaded president clinton to become involved and to invest so much in the northern ireland peace process. you went over there and met with people nobody else would meet with. you saw what was happening in northern ireland. but a lot of people don't realize with a name like morrison, you have no irish at all in you. you come from good lutheran stock. and what they also don't realize is you got involved in the northern ireland peace process because you spent your whole
career involved in human and civil rights. you introduced major immigration reform in this country, and were there more congresspeople like you today. you did that at a time when it was popular to do that and you devoted your time to monetary causes. you're an ideal person to have on this panel when we look at the legacy, why we should commemorate this, but also thinking about the future as well. so bruce, i'll hand it over to you. >> okay. well, i'm going to make one correction. my grandfather on my father's side was a proud ulster scot from ennis killen. i haven't told arlene yet. and when i was growing up, he exhibited all the bigotry that went with his origins. so i learned about northern ireland from that perspective. but when he was born, there was
no northern ireland, because he was born in 1881. and the irish island was one. i think it's interesting that the ambassador made reference to today's 100th anniversary in terms of the election of the first doll because the decisions that were made after that election, the partition that occurred after that election had an awful lot to do with the environment that called forth the civil rights movement after years of one party, one religion rule, and the tolerance of all of that, you know, by the government in london not feeling that that was anything to be concerned about. that neglect, that's a nice word
for it, that neglect of the basic violation of people's rights within the united kingdom supposedly a bastion of democratic society, i think that it's very important to put those things in contrast and not to let these somewhat good feelings of today on things the progress that's been made, not to see the decisions the leaders make about injustice has a long tale. and many people suffer from the failure of leadership to step up and to face these questions. which are never politically popular. it is never the politically easy thing to do to recognize rights, because by their definition, rights are things that
minorities have to have to protect themselves. things that the majority agrees on don't really need protection in the same way. so also i came to the northern ireland issue through human rights. when i arrived in congress in 1983, the discussion of northern ireland for many members of congress was not really rights based. it was tradition based. and people had views based on their heritage, and they had politics that, you know, kind of -- st. patrick's day politics, i might call it, which was celebratory but really not confronting the challenges that existed in northern ireland then. so it was very useful to me to come into that from a rights-based background having been a legal aid lawyer, having
gone to congress with a long list of human rights challenges on my plate and seeing northern ireland fit into that analysis. and quite frankly, that put me at odds with many in the house who didn't necessarily like the people who were calling out the politically challenging problems that existed. and, you know, it wasn't just the british government that was unhappy. it was the irish government, too, that was happy with some of the disruption that came from some of the things that we were asking. but i think that that experience certainly helped me to get involved and helped me to see the kinds of things that could be done. the civil rights movement in america certainly had a lot to do with the civil rights movement in northern ireland.
it created an idea that these things could be done, these injustices should be confronted and could be confronted. i think there is a very important difference between the way the leaders of the countries involved reacted to this. which is not to say that i think the united states has solved its rights problems or that we have solved the problems of racism. we certainly haven't, and maybe we've gone backwards badly very recently. but nonetheless, we had two things that didn't happen in response to the civil rights movement in northern ireland. first of all, we had the courts. and we had the bill of rights. and we had the 14th amendment. the point being that the
unwritten constitution of the united kingdom does you very little good if you have a rights claim. and parliament is supreme over all questions like that. europe has supplied some of that missing element, and i guess won't, perhaps, in the future. but part of the good friday agreement was a bill of rights for northern ireland were still waiting, and the failure to have that -- you can track all the way back to the civil rights movement. dwight eyisenhoweeisenhower, a conservative republican, did not send troops to little rock because he wanted to. but he was faced with courts saying he really had to. he had to decide between the rule of law and political expediency. he made the right choice. and as you look into the 1960s,
you see what john kennedy and lyndon johnson did. kathleen kennedy townsend made reference to this. the political cost for them to step up and to take affirmative action in support of equal rights was very costly politically. lyndon johnson said, i'm signing away the south for a generation. it might be two. the point is that was, you know, you could call it what you want, i think it was courageous and i think it was important. i don't think you could find any instance in a reaction in london to the civil rights movement in northern ireland that reflects taking responsibility. when you go forward to the good friday agreement and you get to tony blair, you've got a
countecounter example of somebody who decided to step up and do what was needed to bring forward a peace policy that would work. i don't think he gets enough credit. i think a lot of people get credit. he's in the doghouse because of the iraq war, but the fact is he was the guy on the scene like no other british prime minister in history with respect to ireland, who stepped up to do anything ent interminably to do the right thing. i think the civil rights movement was the precursor to all of this, and the people who marched and did what they needed to do, the people who died on bloody sunday, the people who were willing to stand up for rights really deserve an enormous amount of credit for
laying the groundwork, and the reason the groundwork didn't move faster rests with people in leadership, not with the people on the streets who really advocated for what was right. and they did something else that i think they know but maybe they don't, which is bill clinton was at oxford in 1968, and people talked about -- the ambassador talked about the television on the telly in london where the march is. and i've talked to bill clinton about that, and bill clinton didn't not notice. if you know anything about bill clinton, there was nothing bill clinton doesn't notice. the point is he noticed. he didn't have much occasion to do anything about that for most of his life, from 1968 to 1992. but when reminded of the situation in northern ireland, this came flashing back to him. and it is one of the reasons that he played such a critical role in the good friday agreement.
so more power to the people who put that on the telly. finally, i think we all should recognize in our own society and elsewhere how much work has not been done. secreta secretarianism was the thing they were trying to get changed. they weren't trying to trade protestants over catholics or catholics over protestants. they were trying to undo a problem. i would say the politics are very sectarian in they're structure and that's a huge challenge. until those barriers break down, we may have peace but we really
don't have community. so i would say we certainly have a whole list of problems we could list for america on that subject, but for northern ireland, the problem of sectarian structures in education and in housing until they're confronted will be very hard to build a really permanent community. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> so you've worked in conflict situations around the world, the middle east, south africa, north america, northern ireland. you've been a studier of peace for many years. recentlily, of course, you chaired the northern ireland 50th anniversary civil rights group commemoration community, and also you come from dairy where it all started. you spent much of this year
organizing commemorations, including the one featuring president higgins which dan mulhall mentioned earlier. what's your take having been to these events on memory and coordination and why we should do it? >> i would actually like to shift my remarks to the anniversary committee around the topics of legacy and commemoration. when i think of commemoration, i always think of milaf. there is no memory other than a memory of wounds. how you move beyond the memory of wounds becomes very, very difficult in conflict. that's why one of the reasons, when the ambassador was speaking about the decorative centennials
which up until now i think has been highly successful, but one of the reasons why celebrating the 1916 raising in dublin was successful was because on the 50th anniversary, it was triumphant. so when the 75th anniversary came around, it was much more done. in other words, we all learn from our mistakes. that's one of the things i want to emphasize. one of our best cultural commentators wrote way back in 2007. he said, it's not what happened in the past that matters, it's how it is remembered. those who control the past control the future. one of the things we said from the very beginning when we established our committee, it
was to be as wide-reaching as possible. it wasn't to represent any particular political slant, even though we would have been perceived as coming from a nazi background, however, if you look at the members, it was generally wide ranging. from the very beginning, we have held more than 30 public meetings this year. but the second meeting we held was a private meeting, and it was held in a presbyterian church in belfast and was held to engage the lawless community, to let them know what we were doing, to make it very, very clear what this was about was not about trying to claim there is only a certain amount you need to be involved. when you look at what we held in a large part of northern ireland, i think that message is starting to show through.
. husband awarded the prize for having contributed more community relations than anyone else, and this is something she's immensely proud of. we needed to broaden this, we needed to be inclusive and we needed to be reflective. this was not to be an exercise of nostalgia. and when we officially made our commemoration committee, it was done at roseland presbyterian church in belfast. that site is very, very important, because that is where an american-irish man in 1968 sprung from. so again, we were facing on
serio serious. another thing that came through, for example, hig begin's festival have one of the sessions we had which i'm organized f organized. because when you're trying to get beyond, one of the important things you have to do is use the arts for therapeutic purposes. i think we have tried to do that and continue to do that. one of the questions that it's. ls no other understanding of art
ventures. when i document the troubles and coming out of the troubles, i looked at his crediting poetry, his nobel laureate lecture. it's a wonderful piece of politics and a wonderful piece of literature. it deals with the little question of forgiveness. it deals with how do you suffer what violence has already caused? that's the theme throughout that, and for that reason it's very, very. i want to say just a few words about taking that and looking at words. what are we gained from a compa company. >> we established it is the diversity of civil rights
involvements in both countries. while you had an irish, you had an american r. i would argue that this has to go back and things are much more complex right now. the people moved the irish community away from their own ethnicity, and for example, in immigration, if you're going to get improvements in immigration, you need to have an ethnic coalition. you're not going to do it simply because you say i'm irish and therefore we deserve it. that became very important in spelling people's reasons of where they could go. and if i can mention a person
almost totally formal gotten in the struggle is paul dwyer. i don't think he has been properly recognized because he worked with all different minorities here in the united states, but he was also working with loyalist communities back in belfast. i don't think many people necessarily know the very important role he played in that. so while the movement in the united states didn't go down the way it did, the board of education did manage to open the floodgates to some extent, but there were other things. listening in the last session, i was thinking of richard hostettler's famous session on politics when he was thinking
about he knew nothing in the 1860s and 1870s in this country. when we started we were in the heart of a democracy. 50 years on, i think we've moved beyond that paranoia, and therefore, i think everything now becomes possible. thank you. [ applause ] >> so last but certainly not least, austin currie. in many ways, austin, it's your fault we're here today. you were there in the beginning of the civil rights movement, the famous protest on housing, the occupation which spread to protests on voting in society in general. you've issued your parliament,
you moved around in the irish republic. you've seen the whole movement over the years throughout the troubles, beyond the troubles, so who better to ask about commemorating a new legacy than you. >> thank you very much. the attitude of people towards me is quite common of people i meet who will say, oh, thank you, you've done a good job, you did a great job starting the civil rights movement. on the other hand you'll meet a number of people who say, you're the bastard who started all this frivolity. the ambassador has spoken about his mother and the family on the radio. that's not unusual.
in northern ireland today, i think the whole world must be watching the news on the television or listening on the radio. everybody does. in my house, i watched the bbc national news at 6:00, the northern ireland news 6:25, then channel 4 at 7:00. the virginia news from 8:00 to 9:00. 9:00 are the news on ite. i mean, that's what i'm like. there was a very long time in
relation to the problems in northern ireland and ireland, northern ireland in particular. in one word, it was reconciliation. that is the objective of all of us to bring about reconciliation between the two communities to the north and between the north and the south. also i was a very strong supporter early and up to this year the policy idea of partnership between the two traditions. my attitude then was, well, we've got very major problems in northern ireland that affects the two communities. there are major problems of the jobs, particularly about housing, we've got so many
political, social, economic, uncultured problems. if we form a coalition of tackling those problems, they eventually will lead to the reconciliati reconciliation. summoning one of those involved, in 1974, i believe that we had met simondale. it was better than the agreement. for example, the country of
ireland was pulled down. the country of ireland between north and south was far ahead of the committees that are sent under the good friday agreement. on simondale, the government only lasted for five months. but the five months we were, we were able to prove that we could all be equal together and we could solve these particular problems. but then the loyalists, the provisional ira, they said that was not the future. jointly -- jointly -- they brought down the parliament. i think that the future has to be a gain on that basis.
i don't see any other solution. there are some people who call in for a referendum on something, and the people are suggesting -- well, the fact is the sarcastic attitude in northern ireland was tough as nationals. then there will be a majority. i called up the rapid fear to read them. the most dangerous thing you couldn't suggest that's possible in a referendum, we got one vote
to tie the solution. what sort of country would be in a situation where such a short and small thing came into being? what about loyalists in the north who showed that they could do this sort of thing and move briskly and what of working class people, for example, in my former constituency in dublin, working class people who you ask the question and they say, we've got enough trouble already. so i handled this start of
reconciliation. unfortunately, because of the troubl troubles, people who are mortared on memories are going to be a very, very long time on a very long month of bitterness, a situation where two political parties are commemorating the murders or murderers of people and tragic situations. to perpetuate the violence, to perpetuate the bitterness. the only other solution is
reconciliation. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, austin. i'm going to open up with a couple questions and we'll move to the floor, but it would be remiss of me if i did not address the very large elephant that's in the room. one of the things absent from politics today, which is worrisome and dangerous, is an absence of foresight or wanton neglect or reckless abandon for willingness to engage in foresight. there was a referendum largely because of debate in his party. it did not occur to him that there is a land border between him and the united kingdom. the land of ireland has been living with that since. so the issue of brexit, what do you think any implications of whether it's a soft brexit, a
hard brexit or no deal for northern ireland in particular in terms of civil rights. in one sense you could say the president democratic union is asserting their rights over the rest of the community. and ever since brexit itself was a full 4% majority vote over the rest of the united kingdom. >> the european union must have much greater rights and stand d standard. within in northern ireland. so what would you say would be the most worrying aspects of brexit for the future of civil rights, peace over northern
ireland? dan, if i could turn to you for an easy one to start with. >> no, no, look, i've sort of fwhen this business now for 40 years, and i see our european union membership as part of kind of a progressive evolution of. i was afraid, first of all, it gave us the opportunity to develop our economic potential which we had failed secondly, it exposed us to influences outside the british irish scene which i think. i think in northern ireland --
backe in brussels. there was a good degree of the that in our context would not have seen eye to eye very hand. in those days, we provided briefing for all the irish mvps north and south. i don't remember us ever being told not to send them to the newest mvps who were there at the same time. also, think about it. in northern ireland good friday agreement does not mention it as
a condition, but the whole agreement is suffused with an understanding that both britain and ireland belonged to the european union. if you think of the irish as part of a bargain that normal nationalists and republicans agreed to and return for that there it is a partial arrangement that the computer is part of a dimension and so on. for both sides, the brexit is being used as part of the agreement. on the part of the nationalists, it is the threat of one of the agreements might somehow in the future be compromised.
and then for unionists, there is a view that the backstop agreement is somehow a kind of departure from their view of how the constitutional fabric of northern sirld. this shouldn't be any distinction between northern ireland and the rest of the. if i were a northern ireland business person or r politics, i think the backstop if it were to be applied, that it would become the only place in europe that h has. that would be a pretty big
selling point for northern ireland business and its economic potential. somehow that seems to have been completely dismissed, so i think brexit is deeply unwelcome and an unfortunate. it's unfortunate because it's come at the same time when other things come into you simple. but we have to get over foefr the brexit murlgd. we've managed to ruin it which is exacerbated by brexit. >> i want to continue with this.
first of all, i want to say that personally i think the brexit vote, which came in june. it was 2016? >> yep. >> yep. i just remember it was a very significant moment. we talked about tony blair earlier, but i think one of the problems with brexit is it seems to me to be a reflection of the working class. it seems to me there is some way that england has not been told what, in fact, the good friday agreement meant in terms of the prisoners' site. at the time of michael guinness' death, it was quite clear that the mothers of soldier and lots of people that have been involved in northern ireland t
had not been explained to remember what the implications were so there was a tolerant of anything the agreement represented. i do think one of the consequences was this brexit, this little england vote that developed. i was doing a personal observation. the other thing that strikes me is that they were supporting or not supporting the ddp. the real irish situation is the number of people i spoke to including on the shankal who do not support the dup. the farmers don't support the dup. the businessmen are not getting into the ditch with the dup, yet
every time there is a reelection, the dup are elected. it's always seemed to be a strange thing to me. the business people actually want what's happening. they want this special relationship with the eu. they do get it, it is to their advantage, but something seems to happen when it gets into the polling booths and they're confronted with the dup. that seems to me to be the problem that because of this reduction of our entity, and austin was right, there was a better deal in 1994. there was. but what we've got now we've got now. and the point of changing that discussing the reduction of these two camps is a huge loss to me, the eu, but the thing that's guaranteed my involvement with the european union is that
i have two passports. and i've always been very happy to be a european unionist. it's all the incredible anomaly of being a northerner and a southerner at the same time for me, because i could be happily -- while at first i couldn't happily claim to be a unionist, i can happily claim to be a european unionist. and i know that the great advantage of it and one of the great advantages is it involves ireland, europe or both. >> where i sit on this, i think the european family is failing in its party.
this was a torey fight with a torey party that was to settle a score, and cameron thought he was paving his way home. it did pave his way home. and the -- john gruden gave a speech here after he left his role as ambassador of the european union here at brookings in which he talked about what the european union meant in terms of european history. there were all the little things you could be annoyed about about the bureaucracy in brussels or any of the annoyances that people had to have about life and about europe, the 500 years before there was a european
union, and all the wars and all the deaths and how the european union had replaced that. but for the british, of all people, to walk away from that, having suffered themselves in these wars and been participants in these wars, to me it's just a mindless exercise, and, you know, just because jeremy corbin thinks that it's a capitalist plot going on in brussels, we don't have an opposition that's going to stand up and say, this is crazy. we cannot get an agreement that the tories can agree on. the only agreement that is possible would be a new election and second referendum, et cetera, et cetera. i don't know how it would come out. but the idea that the people say brexit is inevitable. the prime minister said, we have to have it.
excuse me? we have one advisory vote, i hope they'll have another. i don't think it will pass. and i hope that's what happens. i don't think it's a good brexit. i think it will certainly be better with the backstop than without it. we obviously don't want to see all the damage to northern ireland, but look at all the european union has done in ireland and in northern ireland in terms of economic support and political support over the years. it's amazing to me that they have stood firm as the 27 nations in support of the open border. that is something that's quite unusual in international matters. so there is a lot of strains there. we think shame is going to come down to this. >> we have certain attitudes towards britain, the english.
but credit has to be given that on many occasions over the generations, they have proved to have competent politicians. so it is a whole ineptitude not only on the tory side but on the liberal side as well. total ineptitude. so we hope, hope, hope that the brexit will eventually leave, and i think it could be inevitably there will be a referendum. but i hope we're different from
last time when so many lives were tolled and no hints were given. if it please the ambassadors here, the people are proud to have our diplomats. now, you take that for granted. i knew from experience over the years, being in the united states, being in the continental europe, being london and all over the place. i've met many, many irish diplomats on the consequence now. as bruce said, we managed to
hold 27 countries together against the british. we should realize the pride that we have and the things we have under the british dignitaries. i feel very similar. if you look in the 26 countries, you know where the money has come from. but it's not just the economic side. ireland has finished over the time the membership of the eu. and we have been forced to come
in with other concepts that we think might be accepted for generations. >> can i say one more thing about that because i think it's important to recognize this. the civil rights movement of the european union globalization, they're all part of a long process of opening up and openness and which we benefit from enormously. to some extent the last number of years has seen a kind of reaction that brexit is
narrowing -- it's a narrowing exercise, an exercise in closing things down rather than opening up. opening up can be seen as kind of a risky and unpopular process, and it's happened also in certain parts of europe also where you see the same trend. and i think there might be a bit of it here in america as well. but i don't know about that. >> we didn't talk about our vote, did we? >> paul, if you don't mind, because we're drawing to a close, there is an important question i want to ask paul, and i'm going to start with you, paul, because i know you'll have an answer ready to go. you've just been appointed the commissioner of civil rights in northern ireland. what is the one single issue you would talk priority tomorrow?
>> there is a certain feeling you get from reconciliation, so i've been appointed this position, and in my mind it is a position of despair because of the last that we dealt with brexit. i think the greatest way to thinking in the 20th century is. i think we're there with brexit, we're there with the present administration here in this country, we're there with what's going on in central europe, we're there with what's going on with refugees and immigrants. it becomes very, very difficult to be positive about how you
move forward. i go back to what i said earlier which is we need to think small, and thinking small is getting done to the community and working through things such as they are because there is new evidence that the political class are in a position to do things. >> thank you. bruce? >> i think the northern people in identifying things that are shared as concerns is where the energy needs to go. because there is powers of division operating with great strength and in many structures. and it has always been the
community-based organizations, largely women headed, because in northern ireland politician leaders are men and the organization leaders are women. but they have had success over the decades in doing something the politicians often failed to do. so i think looking to that, and i think that's what paul is saying as well, but the idea is shared -- i was in a meeting of ex-prisoners. once it had both republican and loyalist ex-prisoners and there was an exercise that essentially said, who is your enemy? and the loyalist ex-prisoners were con foufounded by the prob that was said by the ex-prisoners was part of their experiences as well. they had the same grievances and concerns about their inability
to reinnovate and get jobs. they found the republicans reciprocating. they said we found the republicans were always our enemy. make it what you like, but the point is the remedy was to forget about that but to find a way for those people to work together on their shared grievances. >> in the first maybe 20 years of my career, there is a child but i haven't been back in my first 20 years as a diplomat, but then i was asked to be part of the secretariat which is where i met austin and paul
also. the problem at that time was, you know, we had some very good debates about policing and rights issues and so forth, but we couldn't get any kind of dialogue going across the sectarian divide. i managed to get one sort of loyalist to come down and speak to us and we had cbi, northern ireland came down and spoke to us. but that was it, really. we just couldn't break down that notion that somehow engaging with people from our political system or across the political divide was a thing that ought to be done, needed to be done. that just wasn't part of the way of thinking in those days.
you know, the thing that disappoints me most over the past 20 years looking back is how the middle ground in northern ireland hasn't really showed itself. i mean, everyone i meet tells me that there is a lot more middle ground than meets the eye. but then again, when it comes to election time, you just don't see that because people polarize it again and vote for their -- the strongest tribal party. so i think the future for northern ireland has to be creating a civil society, you know? and i would say scotland is a good example. because i always felt -- when i thought of scotland, i was aware of some polarizations there because of history and so on and catholics and presbyterians. but what always impressed me was when i went to events how people genuinely came out to discuss
the issues to do -- that was derevolution rather than independence, but it was a real civic kind of spirit there. it would be great to see that somehow developing in northern ireland where it would cultivate that middle ground. the firm i worked f-- forum i w in the 1990s was a forum for peace and reconciliation. i think we have peace but we're not at peace with ourselves because we still have these recommendations. the recommendations based off the equation is really the one we need to work with, and i'll get with austin and paul and others as well, so my forum was reconciliation once again. >> i think that one of the first things that seems to me to be very important is to begin with the schools, to begin with integrated schooling. because until we get the children growing up together and sharing the school system, we're
not going to get any understanding of each other's communities. and so that would seem to me to be where to start. and i was very struck by something the other day when i arrived in washington. it was in the "wall street journal," and it was dated the 13th of december, and it reported that the southern baptist theological seminary, one of the oldest and most influential, evangelical churches in america, had commissioned a report, it had just revealed a 71-page report, examining its ties into white supremacy, the confederacy and the whole business about its involvement with slavery. that seemed to be an extraordinary thing for the baptists to do. and it seems to me that various groups in our societies need to
examine their own contributions. because we can't keep looking at the others and saying, it wasn't them, it wasn't us. we have to start that. we have to examine what our own ties are with violence and in bringing children up together and educating them together, it also -- and this is where i agree with paul because it's getting people to a third level of education which they can afford, helping them into that situation and also allowing them to work in cultural projects, in writing plays, in writing stories because that's the way the involvement and language. this business about choosing a word, and it's been a problem all the way through. if you put a word on someone and you call them informer, tout, witch, whatever the word is that
robs them of their identity, republican communist, loyalist. the point is the use of language is a substitute for -- it's a way of stopping people thinking. the only way i figure you can do that is by raising everybody's education standards and funneling it properly. >> very briefly, the ambassador of the house referred to the attitude of people such as the border to the situation in the north. there were a number of northern nationalists who were very bitter by the lack of support over the years. because northern nationalists were not just abandoned in 1821,
we were abandoned in the arms of our enemies who were going to control us. it was only when we decided for ourselves stand up on our feet in the civil rights movement. it was only then the southern area got involved. then we had all the political parties and the south reunited with the state. education, of course, but some people would make the argument that at least during the troubles, the schools weren't centers of violence because they were separated. but then i would argue the other
thing, that if they had been integrated, this wouldn't have happened. but the importance of history, the knowledge of knowledge, the proof of history, on this period that we have been discussing today, as very distorted and time of provugss who claim that they were responsible for this civil rights movement. whereas we know what it was. but not just that. the communionist community and the republic community need to know the facts of history and
they should be in the north and the south. >> this has been an amazing panel. i'll draw it to a close with some more words from john lewis, where bear out the sentiments each of you have expressed with the intention to move towards reconciliation and the work left undone. use the words of the movement to pace yourself. we used to say that ours is not the struggle of one day, one week or one year. ours is not the struggle of ewe one judicial appointment or presidential term. ours is the struggle of a lifetime or maybe many lifetimes and each one of us must do our part. and if we belief in the change we seek, it is easy to commit to doing all we can because the responsibility is ours alone to build a better society and a more peaceful world. thank you very much. we'll have closing words from my
colleague who is going to thank our panelists and all of you before we close. and then there's some food and drink which we hope you'll all stay with us for. >> thank you. ien won't keep you long from the food and drink. i value my life. i teach the english department and one of the leadership team of the global irish is studies at georgetown. i have a very simple task, which is mostly to thank people. as was said at the start of the day, an event like this doesn't come without significant supp t support. a lot of people have made this possible. and want to thank the departments and programs and the office of the president. the center for religion, peace and world affairs at georgetown college, the undergraduate
college, the department of african-american studies and the department of theology. so thank you very much to all of those. we're indebted to our external partners. especially the mc of ireland and the northern ireland bureau who has been extraordinarily generous and helpful. also to the network and our television partners c-span for recording this for us. and our usual heroes, i want to mention a few people from the berkley center staff. as well as the student volunteer who is have been here all day today. but for my own part, i want to thank especially jared and irene, who did all the work to put this together, but also all our panelists for ours a stonishing ensites it's been a pleasure. so if you'll join me in thanking
them. >> i have one more group to thank. that's all of you part making today such a great investment in the future of global irish studies and the global irish studies initiative at georget n georgetown. and this is an opportunity for us to reach out to long-term supporters. and to promote our development. goals to a wider audience. our initiative is relatively new. we have three main goals. first one is engaging the community with events like this. inspiring our students. and the third one is enabling research into ireland on georgetown's campus and deepening our culture around ireland and georgetown's campus.
all three will be informed not only by. the global and comparative commitment, but also by a deeper commitment in it georgetown across the university. as we have seen today to questions of racial equity and social justice. and these are the pillars of our global irish studies movement initiative. we have big dreams, big aspirations. it's ambitious, but we no with your help, we can do it. the secret to our success will be people like you. the least is to help spread the word. if you have ideas about programs and projects you'd like to share with us, tell us loudly. if your business or your organization can partner with us, let us know 3 if you can establish connections to individuals and organizations
who can help us with our dreams for global irish studies, let us know. if you're one of those individuals or represent one of those organizations, please come and talk to us. we'd love to invite you to campus to tell you more about what we plan to do over the coming years. what makes our initiative unique among all of those in north america and those in the world is that we are committed to global and comparative outlooks. i want to move to another con nnt. in 1995 the civil and human rights and environmental rights activist was imprisoned in nigeria. before he was executed, he was visited regularly by a nun from northern ireland.
she smuggled out some of his last letters and poems chrks are now housed at the university in ireland. one of his last was an homage to sister mckaren, who left nigeria and moved back to ireland. i want to quote from this poem that seamlessly stitches together. all politics is local. what we mean is local is by no means settled. it's not exclusive. they widen the circumstance until this poem. what is it i often ask unites the county and it must be the agony. the hunger for justice and peace. which marries our memory s ies
journey of faith. now separated by the mighty ocean and strange lands, we pour forth prayers, purpose and pride. laud the integrity of ideals, hopefully reach out to the grass roots. civil rights we have heard today are intensity local and inescapably global. we will continue to talk about these scales of thinking through our global initiative with your help. thank you to all of you and all our speakers.
when the new congress takes office in january, it will have the youngest, most diverse freshman class in recent history. new congress, new leaders. watch it live on c-span starting january 3rd. house speaker paul ryan is about to deliver his farewell address at the library of congress this afternoon. speaker ryan is retiring at the end of this term in january
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