Day of Reflection Conference: Moving Forward

February 9, 2010

The Day of Private Reflection on 21 June each year is an initiative promoted by HTR, and is offered as a day for personal, private and individual reflection, for example, at home or at work, within a family, group or organisation.

It is seen as an inclusive and positive experience that emphasises a commitment to a peaceful new society.  It provides an opportunity to acknowledge the deep hurt and loss caused by the conflict in and about Northern Ireland, to remember the men, women and children who on a daily basis live with the consequences of the conflict, and to reflect on personal attitudes that might have the potential to negatively impact on others and society.

The background to the Day of Private Reflection

The idea was one of the original recommendations made in 2002 in the Report of the Healing Through Remembering Project. This report followed a public consultation on ways of dealing with the past.
The date was chosen following thorough research into possible dates for such a day.  This research highlighted that there is no single date in the calendar year which is not the anniversary of the death of at least one person in relation to the conflict.  It was felt that 21 June, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, was a symbolically important day.  The hours of light and dark could be seen as a symbol of the hope and pain in our society.  It is a day which represents a pause in the cycle of nature, a moment to reflect.

Following local and international research, a discussion paper entitled A Day of Private Reflection: Discussion Paper and Proposal was launched at the Market Place Theatre in Armagh in 2006. The response to this paper led to the creation of the Day of Reflection, and HTR first invited people to take the opportunity to reflect on 21 June 2007.  An independent evaluation indicated substantial support for the Day, which has been marked annually since. The Day of Reflection Sub Group has decided to return to Armagh on the 21st of September, the International Day of Peace, to mark the next phase of the initiative.

What is this conference for?

The conference on 21 September is an important opportunity to discuss the issues, challenges and benefits of this initiative, and to consider the future for the Day.  HTR fieldworkers will outline the key findings of previous evaluations carried out.  The discussion will include input from a wide range of people regarding the Day, and will also demonstrate the types of activities that are held across these islands either on or around the Day.  Participants will have an opportunity to have an informed, facilitated discussion on the issues.

Issues to be considered include:

  • Should HTR still manage it?  Should politicians/unions/churches be more involved?
  • Should it remain a private day?  Should it be day of Reconciliation? Should it be a holiday?
  • Should HTR be more prescriptive about activities?  Should HTR hold an event?
  • Is it still needed?  Should it be phased out or stepped up?

The conference will close with a consideration of the issues raised for the future of the Day.

The conference will be an opportunity to share local knowledge and experiences and to contribute to the wider debate on dealing with the past.