These include a "commitment to the mutual respect, the civil rights and the religious liberties of everyone in the community" and eight particular rights are spelled out: the "complete incorporation into Northern Ireland law of the European Convention on Human Rights, with direct access to the courts, and remedies for breach of the Convention, including powers for the courts to overrule Assembly legislation on the grounds of inconsistency"; a new Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; a new statutory Equality Commission; a normalization of security arrangements and practice, including the reduction in the numbers and role of British Armed Forces deployed in Northern Ireland; an agreement to acknowledge and to address the sufferings of the victims of violence; and the establishment of an independent commission to make recommendations for future policing arrangements (currently sitting); and a parallel wide-ranging review of the criminal justice system. Nevertheless, divisions of this sort are often symptomatic of the absence of a unifying social solidarity, or of a commonality of aims and aspirations between the communities, and the absence of procedures or techniques - such as mediation - for combining respect for difference with a sense of mutual belonging. It is, rather, a realization of the many dimensions of reconciliation and an acknowledgment that personal and social reconciliation is necessary to create new communities of trust. Programs that help to create trust and seek to transform weak relationships into trusting ones through a practical and realistic understanding of opposing perceptions are a necessary precondition to social reconstruction in Northern Ireland society. Participants attended two seminars at the University of Ulster at Coleraine and spent two weeks in the United States at Fordham University School of Law, attending lectures and skills training workshops and making site visits to mediation centers in New York City. Ultimately, however, we felt that the importance attached to transparency in the procedure and the idea that individuals would have to be motivated to apply would outweigh these possible difficulties. In June 1996, participants came to New York for a two week period that included study and visits to local mediation centers where various models of mediation and conflict resolution had been adopted. In Northern Ireland, on the other hand, the very idea of neutrality implies at best a compromise of integrity and, at worst, ineffectual behavior. The Culture of Politeness: there is in Northern Ireland a dominant culture of politeness that inhibits efforts to address difficult issues.
Seamus Dunn and Jacqueline Nolan-Haley,
Conflict in Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement,
22 Fordham Int'l L.J. 1372
Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj/vol22/iss4/13