Supported by Community Foundation for Northern Ireland
An Opsahl Commission Plus for the new millennium.
Between the summer and winter of 2020, Community Dialogue undertook a Northern Ireland-wide consensus building dialogue and capacity building workshop pilot process.
This was a prototyping project, funded through the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Civic Innovation Grant, consisting of 12 consensus building dialogues and 12 political education and participative democracy workshops.
The purpose of this ongoing and growing process is to build a unified cross community critical mass of informed, socially active citizens sharing and articulating an agreed vision for our future.
We know, from our extensive community engagement experience, that people who get the chance to understand each other’s positions through dialogue are good at resolving differences and agreeing shared solutions. They have the capacity to reach agreement on a vision for our collective future and on the practical steps to achieve it.
Our detailed and extensive society-wide consultation, conducted through 2019-2020, evidenced that our citizens are hungry for this opportunity.
We were also supported by a network of over 30 community partners. These include Rainbow Project, Women’s Information Northern Ireland, Dialogue for Diversity and others, ensuring participation is reflective of our societies’ diversity.
The principles of this pilot initiative contributed to our ongoing efforts to:
- Nurture a non-party political civic voice, influence policy and effect a measurable societal shift towards an agreed, equal, inclusive future.
- Deepen Understanding of Contentious Issues and the Positions of Others.
- Grow Capacity for sustaining Meaningful Relationships in a divided society, for Conflict Management and for Consensus Building.
- Build Agreement on existing and emerging Contentious Issues our systems struggle to resolve.
- Offer an inclusive and shared Vision for our Future.
- Deliver Recommendations to Decision Makers.
The feedback from our pilot programme further built on the thematic areas for action, identified by participants through our consultation process:
Empowering the marginalized
Healing conflict legacy
Improving mental health
Building capacity for participation
Integrating education and housing
Encouraging community-government collaboration
Resolving constitutional tensions
Developing a united civic society voice
We are delighted and excited by the results of this pilot series and are grateful to have been awarded the main Civic Innovation grant in the April of 2021. Further information about the strategic development of our civic innovation programme can be found on our ‘current programmes’ page.