Commemoration in a new context

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A thought-provoking new community project, The Ethical and Shared Remembering Project, spearheaded by The Junction in Derry, will be launched at Derry’s Tower Hotel this coming Tuesday, June 19, at 12.30pm.

The Ethical and Shared Remembering Project was established as a means of exploring and constructing an ethical value base for the people of Ireland, based on the principles of an inclusive and fully integrated society. Addressing the decade 1912-1922 - a defining decade which shaped the Ireland of today - the Project seeks new discoveries and breakthroughs, as well as new ways of looking at old problems.

Maureen Hetherington, Director of The Junction, spoke to the ‘Sunday Journal’ about the importance of this innovative new project.

“We launched this initially in September 2010 with the realisation that we are coming into a decade of anniversaries of 1912-1922, a decade in our past that shaped the future of this island, such as the 1912 Signing of the Ulster Covenant, the Suffragette movement, the signing of the Proclamation, and the Great War and then the subsequent engagement of nationalists and unionists in that war.

“We want to examine that decade in our past and debunk some of the myths around it, looking at some of the unresolved issues from that decade that still exist today and see if we can find resolution from the past.”

Speaking of the issues that have emerged from our collective past experiences, Ms Hetherington went on: “One of the major issues was violence, then the violence from 1969 onwards, as well as sectarianism and gender inequality. Our literary culture is also important, and looking at the literature and how it shaped things is a big challenge, especially looking at writers who created and helped to perpetuate these difficulties.”

Ms Hetherington is in no doubt that the conflicts experienced between 1912-1922 have shaped future generations.

“The trauma of that time and the traumatic experiences of the recent conflict are obvious,” she says. “People still believe in the myths that were handed down through the generations and helped shape our society. We have romanticised violence and romanticised the memory and myth of the past. We’ve never really challenged or addressed the Church’s role in that decade of 1912-1922 were violence and God were both blessing the gun. The challenge today is what the church will do now when asked to commemorate that particular decade of our past.”

The project will now be developed into a training package for use by educators, trainers, facilitators, community development and community relations activists, faith groups and clergy, thanks to funding from the Columbanus Community Trust.

Drs Johnston McMaster and Cathy Higgins will spearhead the project which will be rolled out across Ireland over the next three years.

Two new publications; ‘Ethical and Shared Remembering: Resource and Information Booklet’ and ‘Signing the Covenant: But Which One?’ will be available at the Derry launch.

For more information, contact: The Junction on: 71 361942 or email: mhetherington@thejunction-ni.org.

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