Over 120 women participated in a 20 year review of what the Good Friday Agreement had meant for them

On 19 April 2018, over 120 women participated in a recent 20 year review of what the Good Friday Agreement had meant for them or what changes it had made to their lives, for better or worse.

The conference was run in conjunction with the University of Ulster, Jordanstown and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Reconciliation Fund.

Dr Duncan Morrow from the University of Ulster and Dr Lisa Faulkner-Byrne welcomed everyone to the event.

The scene was then set for the morning session by Dr Maire Braniff who provided an overview of the Good Friday Agreement.

Yvette Shapiro then undertook the task of facilitating a panel discussion with the following women around their insight and or involvement:

  • Eileen Bell, CBE former Alliance MLA (Northern Ireland Peace Forum, First Female Speaker of Assembly)
  • Democratic Unionist Party representative – Joanne Bunting, MLA
  • Ulster Unionist Party representative – Lauren Kerr
  • Sinn Fein Party representative – Carál Ní Chuilín
  • Social, Democratic & Labour Party representative – Noreen McClelland, Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, Councillor

We were then delighted to have Catherine Ferrin of Silver Sister Productions perform a monologue of one woman’s life story during the troubles, this monologue brought the women to their feet, it resonated with so many and really brought home what life had in fact been like for some women.

The afternoon session had the theme ;’ I was there but wasn’t in the room’.

This started with a Voxpop Video of Womens views across communities both urban and rural, north and south.

This was an amazing video with so many views on the Good Friday Agreement, whether they felt it had benefitted them or not, the video helped shape the discussion with the panel of female activists/community development, again facilitated by Yvette Shapiro.

  • Sharlene Anderson (community activist)
  • Catherine Cooke (Foyle Women’s Information Network)
  • Bernie Black (Short Strand)
  • Marie Gillespie (Galliagh Womens group)
  • Catherine Ferrin, Silver Sister Productions

The afternoon concluded with roundtable discussions on a set of questions, such was the engagement of the women involved in this element, we ran out of time to provide feedback.

The information taken from these discussions will feed into a report which will be available later on this year.

Many thanks to all our panellists and facilitators including the wonderful Catherine Ferrin, especially the women who took part in the voxpop, for many this was the first time they had ever been asked their thoughts on even been involved in something such as this.