Podcasts from The Open University give a fresh perspective on the Good Friday Agreement

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, The Open University in Ireland is launching a new 4-part podcast series exploring the impact the agreement has had on society beyond just politics.

‘A Peace of Us’ is hosted by Jordan Kenny, the Dromore-born BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat presenter and includes voices from Northern Ireland’s arts, sports and community sectors. Guests include Peter Canavan, former Tyrone Gaelic footballer and manager, Caragh Hamilton, Northern Ireland women’s footballer, Leesa Harker, award-winning writer and producer, Aoife Moore, Sunday Times journalist and former Irish Journalist of the Year, and Dawn Purvis former PUP MLA, negotiator and activist.

Together with Jordan, guests explore cross-cutting societal issues including how comedy and satire help to make sense of our complicated past, the lessons from sport that we can apply to community building and government, and why poverty and violence in our communities persists in our society 25 years on from the agreement.

Launching on 20 April, the podcast series is illustrated by local student Conor Doran.  Conor’s unique interpretation of the ‘A Peace of Us’ theme won him first place in a podcast cover art competition with Ulster University final year illustration students.

The soundtrack for the podcasts ‘Midnight 10th of December’ is provided by one of Northern Ireland’s most exciting and emerging bands Dark Tropics.

Alongside the podcast, a series of essays from key voices will delve deeper into the impact of the agreement including Henrietta Norton, stepdaughter of Mo Mowlam, John O’Doherty, Director of the Rainbow Project, Owen Reidy, General Secretary of ICTU and Ray O’Hanlon, editor of New York newspaper the Irish Echo. These combine with the podcast to create a series of alternative reflections on the wider cultural impact of the Good Friday Agreement.

The essays and podcasts will be hosted on a new Good Friday Agreement hub on OpenLearn, The Open University’s free learning platform, alongside a Spotify playlist celebrating local music, the cover art competition entries and more.

John D’Arcy, Director of The Open University in Ireland said “We wanted to bring a fresh perspective to this year’s Good Friday Agreement Anniversary.  It was a pivotal moment in our history that has had a huge impact beyond politics into arts, sports and community. 

“The tradition of storytelling is something which transcends identities across our island and this 

collection of essays and podcasts aims to make a positive contribution to our oral and written history not only in Northern Ireland but across the UK, Ireland and beyond.”

Jordan Kenny said, “Being involved in a project that’s allowed me to look in depth at the history of the place I come from has been exciting. From speaking to people who sat around tables that formed the Agreement, to people in the arts and sporting worlds who told me how it played out for them has been eye opening. I’ve learned loads from these conversations and I’m sure anyone who listens will too. Northern Ireland is a diverse and special place, and this podcast really reflects that – hearing from people outside the political world on what they think the next 25 years could look like.

Dawn Purvis commented, “The Good Friday Agreement marked a turning point in the history of Northern Ireland. A momentous occasion full of hope and optimism reflected in the turnout and vote in favour of the accord. It is therefore important to mark this 25th anniversary by reflecting on that period and asking what has changed in the intervening years and what we would like to see happen in the future. The Open University podcast series provides a unique oral history with a range of alternative voices that will be a go-to resource for anyone interested in the journey to peace.”

The Good Friday Agreement hub can be accessed here.