The Helix theatre at DCU. Credit: Kyran O'Brien

DCU hosts conference examining the role of community groups in the Good Friday Agreement

The conference, taking place on 11th October in the Helix, features a wide range of speakers across several panels.

The theme for the conference is 'The Good Friday Agreement: Transatlantic Perspectives on inclusive peacebuilding and community development  – reflecting on the role of grassroots community groups in Northern Ireland and Irish American community organisations.'

John Doyle, Vice President for Research said

"There have been many reflective conferences marking 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement, but the crucial contribution of community-based organisations to the peace process - both grassroots community groups in Northern Ireland, and Irish American organisations – has been somewhat neglected."

The conference is designed to facilitate discussion and conversation, both between the speakers and between other participants. Discussion will focus on what has worked and what has not worked over the past 25 years, the steps that are needed to build inclusion, and how Irish America can continue to play a crucial role 25 years on.

It will bring leading voices from grassroots, community-based organisations in Northern Ireland, together with leading figures in the Irish American community to reflect on both the process to achieve the Good Friday Agreement and to promote its implementation.

Registration is free, but attendees should RSVP by emailing vpr@dcu.ie  


Programme for the conference


8.30 Coffee


9.00 Welcome remarks from conference MC, journalist Dearbhail McDonald.


09.15 to 10.00: 'Has the Good Friday Agreement spread the peace dividend’

Opening Discussion facilitated by Prof John Doyle, DCU

  • David Campbell (Loyalist Communities Council) 
  • Sean Murray (Senior republican community activist)


10.00 to 11.00: ‘Unlocking potential through education’

Facilitated by Professor Anne Looney, Dean of DCU Institute of Education

  • Ashleigh Galway (Primary School Principal, Belfast)  
  • Siobhan McQuaid (Primary School Principal, Belfast)
  • Hillary McEvoy (former Early Intervention Transformation Programme)
  • Maire Thompson (Principal, Hazelwood Integrated College, Belfast) 


11.30 to 13.00:  Building One Community based on equality and respect for all

Facilitated by Professor Deirdre Heenan, Ulster University

  • Linda Ervine (Irish language and cultural advocate, East Belfast)
  • Aine McCabe (Féile, West Belfast) 
  • Denis Brownlee (African American Irish Diaspora)
  • Michael Carroll (Council on American Ireland Relations)


13.00 to 14.00 lunch


14.00 – 15.30:  The Role of Irish America in the Good Friday Agreement

Facilitated by Brian O'Dwyer, Irish American Democrats

  • Ray O’Hanlon (Editor Irish Echo and Author)
  • John Fitzpatrick (American Ireland Fund)
  • Dan Dennehy (AOH and Americans for a New Irish Agenda)
  • Siobhan Dennehy (Emerald Isle Immigration Center)
  • Joe Crowley (former Congressman New York)


1600 – 1730:  Providing economic opportunities for all

  • Jackie Redpath (Greater Shankill Partnership) 
  • Gerry McConville (Falls Community Council)  
  • Stella O’Leary, (International Fund for Ireland)
  • Senator Timothy Kennedy (New York State Senate)


1730 – Closing remarks

All speakers are contributing in a personal capacity.