14 - 16 Apr 2023
This Easter, Corrymeela led a series of events marking 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement.
These events were are an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to reflect on the progress we’ve made over the last 25 years and to recommit ourselves to building a society where everyone thrives in the future.
25 Years; a generation on / Friday 14th & Saturday 15th April
Across various venues on the Ormeau Road, Corrymeela hosted space for debate, discussion, arts and reflection to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. On Friday 14th and Saturday 15th April over 250 people joined us to explore how our society has changed in the past 25 years and the change we wish to see in the future.
Our weekend of events opened with Borderlands on the Friday evening. We’re incredibly grateful to Tommy Sands and Paul Hutchinson for sharing their music and film, respectively, encouraging reflection on the moment of the hope of the Agreement and the human loss that preceded it.
On a bright Saturday, we opened out across the Ormeau Road area for 10 events ranging from film screening to sports matches. In the early afternoon, we were joined by Nichola Corner, Lyra McKee’s sister, for a screening of the acclaimed documentary LYRA. After this screening, hosted at Ballynafeigh Methodist Church, Nicola noted that “the fact that the voice of a gay, Catholic woman is being heard today in this film in a Protestant church shows hat our society is changing for the better”.
At Mornington Community Project, Alan McBride and members of the WAVE Trauma Centre shared stories of loss and of hope. At Ballynafeigh Community Development Association, we heard from groups peacebuilders, artists and activists. In our panel ‘The Good Fight’, Elspeth Vischer, a filmmaker and academic, said that she ‘would want people to realise their own power and realise that sometimes just being in a room and having a conversation is really important’. In Ormeau Park, families stopped by our crafts station, decorating bags and badges. The day finished with a pick–up game of football hosted by our friends, Corrymeela Football Club.
We’d like to thank each of the speakers and panellists who contributed during these events, exploring the reconciliation of the past, our present moment, and the journey ahead. We’d also like to extend our thanks to Ballynafeigh Methodist Church, Mornington Community Project and Ballynafeigh Community Development Association for their help and hosting.
Recommitment at Clonard / Sunday 16th April
When were considering how best to mark the anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, we soon realised we wanted to go to Clonard Monastery. It was there that Fr. Alec Reid held crucial conversations that moved us from bullet to ballot, beginning 12 years before the Agreement was signed. At Clonard, everyday people go about the work of relationship and reconciliation day after day, year after year. As we rededicated ourselves to a just and lasting peace, we wanted to remember that peace is not an event – but a journey – and that reconciliation is the ongoing work we all share.
Among the more than 300 who gathered for our Recommitment at Clonard service were US Special Envoy to NI Joe Kennedy III and US Consul General Paul Narain; Minister of State Steve Baker and the Chair of the UK Committee for NI Affairs, Simon Hoare; Deputy Leader of the Irish Senate, Mark Daly, and Laurence Simms of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. TDs, MPs, MLAs and other politicians were among those in the pews, but those leading the service up front were grassroots peacemakers from across the generations. It was the powerful input of three people under the age of 20 that drew our attention to the future – and to the need for a democracy that can meet the challenges of both today and tomorrow.
A highlight of the service was the music of the Towards Inclusion Choir. This cross–community choir is made up of victims and survivors connected with WAVE Trauma Centre. We also benefited from the reflections offered by Harold Good and Geraldine Smyth – who have worked for peace for decades – and those of three peacemakers (Naoimh McNamee of Glencree, Livingstone Thompson of ACSONI and Kate Clifford of the Rural Community Network) who are among the many continuing to work for a future that benefits not just some, but all.
Near the end of the service we rededicated ourselves as those who bear hope and courage into the world. As we recited words from the Agreement, we shared candlelight with those around us. The service ended with a blessing offered by both Archbishops of Armagh, Eamon Martin and John McDowell.
Recommitment at Clonard encouraged all those who were gathered because people from different parts of Northern Ireland and different perspectives on the Agreement found together a renewed hope that a better future is possible. We rededicated ourselves to a ‘journey towards reconciliation through tolerance and mutual respect, through the protection of others’ rights – through democratic means – so that this day and this Easter season and our resurrected lives might honour not only those we have lost but also the peace that has been won.’
You can view the service through Clonard’s livestreaming service:
We thank the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Community Relations Council for their support in making these events possible.