Dealing with the past, looking to the future

Healing Through Remembering Director, Kate Turner was a keynote speaker at the recent Policing and Justice International Learning Exchange Seminar called Dealing with the past, looking to the future.

The event at Belfast Castle was organized by Mediation Northern Ireland’s MOST Project, a European and international learning and networking project aimed at addressing issues of segregation, sectarianism and racism in Northern Ireland and the border counties.

Around 50 delegates, including public body representatives and a number of international guests from Macedonia, attended the seminar.

Earlier this year, the MOST Project involved 12 civic leaders from Northern Ireland and the border counties travelling to Macedonia where they were hosted by the Macedonian Centre for International Co-operation. The MOST Project is funded by the European Union PEACE III programme which is managed by the Special European Union Programme Body.

The Belfast seminar was part of a return visit to share experiences and contribute to the discussion and learning about how society can look to the future by dealing with the past.

In her speech, Kate referred to the role of Healing Through Remembering as a cross-community organization that considers how to deal with the past relating to the conflict, and how dialogue and discussions about the past among members and the wider community have changed over the past decade.

She said: “Over the last ten years Healing Through Remembering has undertaken a range of consultations, commissioned research, held conferences, led seminars and workshops to both gather public opinion on how to deal with the past, as well as inform those not engaged in the debate.

“There is no single treatment for dealing with the past in Northern Ireland, and this is why there are currently five HTR Sub Groups who explore and debate potential suggestions, including a Living Memorial Museum, a Day of Reflection, Truth Recovery, Commemoration, Acknowledgement and Storytelling.  We hope that these wider discussions will question, inform and further shape these debates.”

Speaking about the MOST event, Kate said:  “We are pleased to be asked to take part in this discussion and see it as an important step to be able to not only reflect on the current challenges of policing and justice in Northern Ireland and the border counties, but also to ask questions and share experiences with our colleagues here and in Macedonia about how we, as a wider society, might achieve peace and justice.”

As part of HTR’s Peace III-funded project ‘Whatever You Say, Say Something’, delivery partners Martin Snoddon and Joe Blake facilitated a workshop during the day long event. The workshop was entitled, Making Peace and Doing Justice. HTR provides workshops like these which are designed to create an opportunity for individuals and groups to meet and discuss the difficult issues around how we deal with the past.  Most importantly, the workshops take place in a safe environment, where people can ask questions and debate the issues that matter to them. These conversations form an integral part of the process of remembering, reflecting, informing and educating.