Book launch on the hill

We had a great time at the launch of Unionists, Loyalists, and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland at Parliament Buildings (Stormont, where the Northern Ireland Assembly meets) on Thursday, March 8. We enjoyed a mix of academics, community workers, civil servants, clergy, politicians, ex-combatants, and friends. It had the feel of public sociology!

After time to mingle and eat sandwiches, Mr. Sammy Douglas MLA called our attention to the front of the room for comments and offered some kind remarks of his own. Mr. Douglas has been deeply involved in conflict transformation and community development for many years, so I have been deeply grateful for his interest in this research and book project. Mr. Jonathan Bell MLA, junior minister in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, spoke on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive and shared his appreciation for “contributions that unionists and loyalists have made to securing a peaceful future for Northern Ireland.”

Prof. John Brewer of Aberdeen University and the current President of the British Sociological Association offered his positive assessment of the book’s contributions. Prof. Brewer held up evangelical leadership as one example of an important dimension of unionist and loyalist conflict transformation that is represented in the book, though I would add that there are other sources, including Prof. Brewer’s latest book (co-authored with Dr. Gareth Higgins and Dr. Francis Teeney; Oxford University Press) that address that topic with a closer focus, for anyone who is interested.
I claimed a couple of minutes at the lectern to say thanks for all the support that made this project possible. However, somehow, I failed to thank Oxford University Press and the event’s ministerial co-sponsors, Mr. Mark H Durkan and Ms. Paula Bradley, errors I correct here! 

We also had a wonderful launch on Monday, March 12 at No Alibis Bookstore, and I will post about that soon, once some pictures are available.

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