Coordinating the Pieces

Mari Fitzduff

Professor and Director of the MA Conflict and Coexistence Programme at Brandeis University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: They set up two agencies, one within the government, which we'd suggested, to look at issues of conflict resolution. The other was independent of the government, which was the Community Relations Council, which was funded by both British funds and European funds., but it was independent so we could make choices about what we wanted to fund and decisions, etc. I went through the usual processes and became the first chief executive of that.

For seven years I worked on that, working with trade unions, local community groups, working with public bodies, farmers, police, army, working with politicians, looking at basically their responsibility in terms of their contribution to conflict resolution. Putting all the pieces of the jigsaw in place, so that what the army did in one area didn't create problems for the bridge building, so that the bridge building began to lead into politics, so the economic development was done taking into account how do you unite people rather than divide them.

Q: A certain amount of coordination.

A: Yes, there was a lot. We had a list in our offices of all the groups we needed to affect change, whether it was the sports council, basically there's a lot of sectarianism in sport, whether it was the arts council, which had huge potential but weren't developing community drama, community art, etc. So yes, we worked with dozens and dozens of different agencies at different times.