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International conference looks at Good Friday Agreement 20 years on

Friday 9 February 2018

INTERNATIONAL experts will discuss the legacy of the Good Friday Agreement at a University of Salford event to mark the landmark political development’s twentieth anniversary.

The Agreement 20 event is the only conference of its kind dedicated to examining the impact of the agreement from a variety of approaches.

The conference – including free events that members of the public are invited to attend – features writers, academics and journalists from across the world discussing the cultural, social, and political legacy of the agreement, which paved the way for power sharing in Northern Ireland and ended years of sectarian conflict.

Experts will also look at where the agreement stands now – following last year’s breakdown of the Northern Ireland Assembly and as the subject of a hard border continues to be discussed as part of ongoing Brexit negotiations.

Dr Caroline Magennis, Lecturer in Literature at the University of Salford and Chair of the British Association for Irish Studies, said: “Twenty years after it was signed, the Good Friday Agreement remains a highly contentious issue which permeates all levels of Northern Irish life, and that’s reflected by the wide variety of topics that will be discussed.

“As well as politics, we have people who will be talking about how the agreement’s influence can be felt in areas such as literature, comedy, football, tourism and sexuality.”

The conference, held at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester’s Cheetham Hill on April 6-7, will open with a special reception hosted by the Embassy of Ireland.

International speakers

Academics from the University of Oxford; Queen’s University Belfast; Goldsmiths, University of London and from institutions in Hong Kong, Denmark and Spain will speak at the conference.

There will also be keynote speeches from Ulster University’s Dr Maire Braniff, and from the National University of Ireland’s Professor Colin Graham, who will talk about the Good Friday Agreement and Brexit.

Author Jan Carson, whose collection of darkly humorous short stories Children’s Children looked at life in post-conflict Northern Ireland, will join award winning playwright Billy Cowan in a writers’ panel to close the event.

Students from the University of Salford’s literature creative writing programmes will help run the event by introducing speakers from around the world.

Good Friday Agreement

All aspects of the agreement

Dr Magennis, who is convening the conference with Dr Maggie Scull and Dr George Legg from King’s College London, said: “The conference will look at all aspects of the agreement, but we’re interested in how sections of Northern Irish society – particularly women and the LGBT community – were excluded from the official version of the post-conflict truth and reconciliation story.

“It’s also wonderful that the conference is being held here in Greater Manchester, which is known for its large expatriate Irish communities, and we will be very happy to welcome them to the event.”

Tickets to the event cost £25 or £10 for students, unwaged and precariously employed.