Commemoration – Forward thinking into the Past
Healing Through Remembering, (HTR) which has received funding from the European Regional Development Fund through the PEACE III Programme to further its work on dealing with the past, launched a report on Commemoration of the conflict in and about Northern Ireland and called for more discussion on the issue.
The launch which took place today, [Wednesday 10th June] began with an introduction from Brandon Hamber (Chair of HTR and Director of INCORE). Dr Geraldine Smyth ( Chair of the HTR Commemoration Sub Group and Senior Lecturer at the Irish School of Ecumenics – Trinity College Dublin) gave a short presentation on the report. She said ‘Commemoration is at the heart of what makes us human and it helps make us whole. In remembering we hold dear those we have lost, and we keep faith with others – including those coming after us. If we can remember with open hearts, we can find healing and release from pain.’
The event included a presentation on ethical remembering by Dr Johnston McMaster, (Lecturer and Programme Co-ordinator, Education for Reconciliation – Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin (Belfast campus)). He challenged society to consider commemorative activity as a means of understanding where we are and why. He noted that this has particular significance in the lead up to the centenary anniversaries of the signing of the Ulster Covenant, the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme. He said, ‘We cannot avoid looking back… but how will we remember… and will we be able to pick out aspects of past events which we might even share and appreciate together.’
Geraldine Smyth, (Chair of the Healing Through Remembering Commemoration Sub Group) said, “The event is offered as an invitation to explore and reflect together on the deep importance and the complexity of commemorating the past while keeping the future in view. In society at large, we need to expand the debate on why, how, where and when our past conflict and all our losses will be commemorated.”
Kate Turner, Director of Healing Through Remembering stated “Healing Through Remembering is promoting discussions on commemoration that consider how best to understand the past as well as to honour it.”
The report collates the contributions made at a one day Round Table event which was organised by the Healing Through Remembering (HTR) Commemoration Sub Group. It includes summarised presentations of commissioned research papers, a presentation on the international context and a summary of the discussions on the day.
Healing Through Remembering continues to enable deeper discussions, forums and events on how best to deal with the conflict in and about Northern Ireland to build a better future.