The Pursuit of Peace in Northern Ireland: A Conversation with Eileen Weir
Eileen Weir received the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council Exceptional Achievement Award in 2018
10 October 2023
Award-winning Northern Ireland peacemaker, Eileen Weir, will reflect on her personal experiences as a community activist as the keynote event at Aberystwyth University’s Festival of Research.
Over several decades, Weir has built bridges across political, religious and other divides throughout the island of Ireland and campaigned for the rights of ordinary people to live in peace and dignity.
Taking place at 1pm on Saturday 4 November in Y Drwm at the National Library of Wales, the event will be a chance to hear personal experiences and reflections from somebody who has spent a lifetime at the heart of the community activism that laid the foundations for political change in Northern Ireland.
Dr Jenny Mathers from Aberystwyth University’s Department of International Politics, one of the organisers of the programme for the Festival of Research, said:
“In the year that marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, we are fortunate to hear from someone with extensive, personal experience of the community activism that laid the foundations for that agreement. Weir has worked with women’s groups as well as trades unions, has helped to set up neighbourhood networks and create connections that reach across political, religious and other divides throughout the island of Ireland.
“In keeping with the spirit of Weir’s emphasis on dialogue, this keynote will take the form of a conversation, initially between Weir and the chair of the event, and then opening up to include the audience. Members of the public, as well as staff and students are invited to join us for what will be a remarkable and memorable occasion.”
Aberystwyth University Festival of Research 2023 takes place from 1-7 November, on the theme of The Pursuit of Peace.
The week-long event features a wide-ranging programme of community-friendly, free activities.
To see the whole programme and to register for free tickets, visit: aber.ac.uk/researchfest
Biography - Eileen Weir
Eileen Weir is a community development practitioner at the Shankill Women’s Centre in Belfast. A feminist and a working-class campaigner, she has spent her adult life working for the rights of ordinary people to live in peace and dignity.
As a teenager, she spent a short time as a member of the Ulster Defence Association, Northern Ireland’s largest loyalist paramilitary group. Her activism began in trades union work when she was employed at Gallaher’s tobacco factory in Belfast, including membership in the union’s Women’s Advisory Committee. It was in this capacity that she took the first steps in crossing the sectarian divide by supporting a motion that would benefit predominantly Republican women.
Her association with the Shankill Women’s Centre began in the 1990s and has included working with prisoners released as part of the Good Friday Agreement to help them return to their communities.
In 2018 Weir received the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council’s Exceptional Achievement Award. In that same year she was also the first woman to receive the McCluskey Civil Rights Award for her work in support of human rights, civil rights and peace building.