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‘Hope in Turbulent Times’

On foot of the publication of their book A Dialogue of Hope, co-authors Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, Iseult Honohan, David Begg, and Dermot Lane, were invited to participate in a ‘Hope in Turbulent Times’ workshop at Queen’s University Belfast, hosted and chaired by the Professor of Green Politics John Barry on 23 March, 2018.

Each of the authors presented a 20 minute paper based on contributions to the book, with a formal 20 minute reply from four designated respondents: Drs Gladys Ganiel, Gordon Ramsey, Tanya Jones and Nicola Brady, with a further 20 minute audience participation.

“The quality of the debate was extremely high and it was a stimulating and exciting day-long dialogue,” noted Gerry O’Hanlon. “It was of particular interest to view our analysis- which has a global focus, but viewed through the lens of the Republic of Ireland- through the optic of Northern Ireland”.

Professor Barry speculated at the workshop. “We live in an Ireland, and a world, where conventional economic models have failed, politics is fractured, what it means to be human is contested, and opposition between secularists and believers is conducted like some kind of Punch-and-Judy show. The dominant narrative of our time is spent. What might replace it?”

Regarding the authors, he said: “A group of individuals, with expertise in different fields of Irish life, came together to make a case for constructive engagement and dialogue between secularists and religious believers, in order to imagine an alternative narrative for our day.

“The Dialogue of Hope book was the fruit of their sharing and deliberations. It is their hope that they can contribute to a more widespread dialogue of hope that will champion an inclusive vision of society where all can flourish and feel at home.”

At the end the authors were encouraged by the response to their invitation to dialogue, not least by the participation of non-believers in the conversation. There is an open invitation to continue the dialogue with Queen’s – and perhaps broaden out to include others.

Gerry added: “In particular it seemed that the ecological issue might be a key focus of attention, not least because it brings together so many of the other factors in imagining an alternative to the current status quo, undergirded by a narrative which the authors argue is now spent. We are extremely grateful to John Barry and Queen’s for this opportunity”.

The day long event was free and open to everyone.