- Target Audience
- Youth/pupils/studentsFormersLocal community organisations/NGOs
- key themes association
- FormersRestorative justice
- Peer Reviewed practice
The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation
Founded in 1974, the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation is an Irish NGO active in practical peacebuilding and reconciliation in Ireland, north and south, as well as internationally.
Deradicalisation is not part of Glencree's primary mission, but our projects include elements of this approach in relation to people who have been involved in or affected by political violence. The organisation works in an inclusive manner with skilled facilitation, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds where political conflict has been a reality.
Type of Organisation: NGO
Through a facilitated dialogue process, the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation provides people from different backgrounds on the island of Ireland (north and south) with a space to tell their stories and share their truths. They may be former members of paramilitary organisations or young people at risk of becoming involved in political violence or the wider communities. Although these individuals may be wary of each other when they first come in, they are encouraged — through the practice and safety of the space — to trust in the process.
The Glencree dialogue process is featured in several different programme contexts, and encourages participants to critically reflect on their own personal and community journeys, through an intense listening experience. What are the reasons for their engagements, and what has the impact been on their lives and the lives of others who have been affected?
Other members of the community who may not have been involved sometimes participate and ask questions. The role of the facilitator is to create a safe space for such dialogue, to question and challenge assumptions about the legitimacy of violence and to allow the dialogue to move at a reasonable pace, or pause if needed.
There is a restorative emphasis in the Glencree process, and the use of 'circles' is intended to help participants build relationships rather than reach agreement. By stressing the human experience and moving beyond the hurts of the past, the goal is to introduce the potential for personal and community transformation. The message is not that everyone should be 'at one with each other', but that through the creation of new understandings and possibilities, we can move forward and transcend the legacy of conflict. Difficult conversations are needed to achieve this, but these are only one element of the broader societal changes.
This process helps to prevent young people from engaging with extreme groups that use violence, and also allows former combatants to define a better sense of integration and usefulness within communities. It offers those not at risk an opportunity to see below the surface and makes them aware of how they can play positive roles in communities. The process can also offer some hope for victims/survivors wishing to regain their ability to be active participants in shaping communities. North-south engagement is also important in this work, especially as Brexit looms and Northern Ireland will no longer be part of the EU. It is essential to continue to advance the peace process.
Despite the above attempt to summarise the key points of the Glencree process, it is also important to note that in reality the situation is much more complex, as meeting the needs of specific groupings and communities invariably means calls for a more intricate, multifaceted approach. The process requires great care, preparation and skilled facilitation.
The process has been documented in many different ways through the different programme components in which it has been involved. Glencree has recently produced a publication, 'Deepening Reconciliation', which describes some of the ways the process is applied, other ways we work, and reflections on what we have learnt while doing this work.