Europe's Futures Fellows Study Trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland

Felix Filnkössl, Ivan Vejvoda, Cathal O’Regan, Hanna Shelest, Vladimir Arsenijević, Katy Hayward, Alberto Alemanno, Kadri Liik, Hedvig Morvai, Jane Suiter, Ieva Česnulaitytė

From 15 to 19 April 2024, the current cohort of Europe’s Futures Fellows of the IWM and ERSTE Foundation went on a study trip to Dublin and Belfast.

The program included a visit to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with opening remarks by Sonja Hyland, deputy Secretary General of the DFA, who explained Ireland’s distinctive foreign policy responses to collective challenges. This was followed by a session titled ‘High-level diplomacy and low-level conflict’ with Ciarán Madden and Ellie Farrell from the Northern Ireland (NI) division of the DFA.

In a session on the subject of participatory democratic methods, the group gained further insights by Professor Jane Suiter (Dublin City University) who was one of the innovators behind Ireland’s first deliberative experiment in 2011, and Cathal O’Regan (Department of the Taoiseach) who was the Secretary for Ireland’s most recent Citizens Assembly on drugs use.

Following a guided tour of the so-called ‘peace walls’ in West Belfast, the group had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable with women leaders of grassroots organizations from different communities in Northern Ireland.

The final days of the program included a conversation between IWM Rector Misha Glenny and Europe’s Futures Fellow Vladimir Arsenijević in the headquarters of the Irish Secretariat in Belfast, co-hosted by Glenn Patterson of the Seamus Heaney Centre, and a panel discussion at Queen’s University on the subject of ‘What to preserve in times of crisis and how?’ co-hosted by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute.

The trip was rounded off with a visit to the Corrymeela Peacebuilding Community in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, where Ziya Meral, an expert in global trends shaping security, and John McDowell led the group in a challenging, honest discussion, bringing together different perspectives and interpretations of what the fellows had heard over the course of the program.

Two articles by Europe’s Futures Fellows Katy Hayward and Vladimir Arsenijević on this study visit are available on our Europe’s Futures website.