St Michael’s Parish Church, Shankill Road, Belfast, will host the first event of this year’s 4 Corners Festival – an examination of political Loyalism 20 years on from the Good Friday Agreement.
This takes place on Thursday February 1 at 7pm and will take the format of a panel discussion with Prof Monica McWilliams, former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; Rev Ken Newell, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Journalist and author of ‘Unfinished Peace’ Barney Rowan; William McQuiston, who served over 12 years in prison and was a prison spokesperson for the UDP and Martin Snoddon, who served 15 years in prison for UVF activity, both now heavily involved in grassroots peacebuilding.
Twenty years ago political representatives of loyalist paramilitary groups not only took part in peace negotiations, but their buy-in helped boost the ‘YES’ vote supporting the 1998 peace agreement. The festival organisers say that here and now however, the loyalist community is frequently portrayed rightly or wrongly as opposed to political ‘progress.’
The event on February 1 will take a deeper look at where political loyalism stands today and what it offers for a shared future.
This event is supported by the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast.
David Campton, Methodist Minister and member of the 4 Corners Organising Committee, said: “Exploring the here and now of peace and reconciliation on the Shankill, what is seen by some as the heart of a Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist culture that is characterized, or perhaps caricatured, as being wedded to the past, and a violent one at that, is an important starting point for our festival this year, with its theme of ‘NOW. HERE. THIS.’
“And it might be an important starting point for this 20th Anniversary year of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement in a climate of political pessimism. Perhaps we might find seeds of hope in unexpected corners of this city.”
For further information, please contact Michael Sloan on 07857450726 or log onto 4cornersfestival.com