Alterations in public discourse towards multiculturalism, reconciliation and liberal democracy at the national level in Northern Ireland are evident from 1998 - 2002, but to what end? To what extent did language play a positive role in the Northern Ireland peace process? Recognizing that language does not tell the whole story of the Northern Irish experience of the Troubles or current peace process, the author highlights how language, as a transmitter and constitutor of culture, has played a role as a signifier of potential conflict, peace and progress (or lack thereof). In particular, the author considers several texts including excerpts from speeches given by Noble Prize Winners—the former First Minister David Trimble and former SDLP leader, John Hume; an IRA apology, Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the Belfast Agreement; and several selections from the work of Northern Irish poets Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland.

Author Bio(s)

Jennifer Dougherty, Ph.D. upon completing a Master’s degree in English (from Washington College), received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study in the field of peace and conflict studies. During her year abroad in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Jennifer had the opportunity to communicate with diverse audiences about conflict and conflict resolution throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Jennifer received a Post Graduate Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Ulster (Magee College) in June 1998. In 2000, Jennifer co-founded a small nonprofit called Peace Initiatives, Inc. which was dedicated to helping young people develop conflict resolution skills through role plays and simulations. During Peace Initiatives’ four year tenure, Jennifer delivered over 60 workshops to over 1000 high school students. Jennifer is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution of George Mason University. Having completed all coursework and qualifying exams, Jennifer on track to defend her dissertation this winter and graduate in May 2006. She can be reached at jdoughe1@gmu.edu.


liberal democracy, multiculturalism, Northern Ireland peace process, public discourse, reconciliation, role of language, speeches

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