Irish Association

Irish Association Annual Conference, Ramada Hotel, Belfast - November 2007

The Irish Association

The Irish Association held it's annual conference in the Ramada Hotel, Belfast in November 2007 the theme of which was Cross Border People. The conference highlighted the period of change on the island in recent years as evidenced by the devolved administration in Stormont. The conference was addresses by President Mary McAleese and included a range of distinguished speakers from business, church groups, politics, the arts and professions who gave testimony of their own personal experiences about the current reality of North South relations including the prospects for an all-Ireland public sphere, the economic boom in the South and it's impact on traditional stereotypes and issues around partitionism and political consensus.

Expert speakers including Professor Brendan O'Leary, Bishop Ken Clarke, Canon Brian Smeaton, Catriona Ruane, MLA, Minister for Education, Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland and Michael Farrel from the Irish Human Rights Commission presented papers and took part in a number of plenary discussions. The conference attempted to evaluate North South relations within the context of the relations and experiences of people who had grown up in respective parts of the island North and South and now found themselves living and working in a different part of the island from where they originated. The conference was a huge success and attracted over 150 delegates from across Ireland. The Association is currently putting together the papers presented at the conference and will be publishing a full report on the discussions which took place during the various workshops. It is intended to make these available on the Association's website in the near future.

President Mary McAleese opened with a major enlightening speech. Very distinguished speakers including Professor Brendan O'Leary, Bishop Ken Clark, Dennis Rooney, International Fund for Ireland, Caitriona Ruane, Northern Ireland Minister for Education, Canon Brian Smeaton, Michael Farrell, Human Rights, Dr Paul Burgess, University College Cork

The US Consulate provided an excellent reception at Ardnavalley House before the conference dinner

The after dinner speaker, writer Jennifer Johnston, gave a very interesting talk on her island of Ireland experience.

A real success in terms of attendance, quality of presentations, discussions, dinner

The Conference Report will be published in April.

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