Grassroots Momentum

Mari Fitzduff

Professor and Director of the MA Conflict and Coexistence Programme at Brandeis University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

I sometimes track the difference between first conversation and first action on their part. The minimum was often two years because the work was just so difficult. Some organizations took up to five years before they actually began.

For instance, the sports council then began to implement programs on sectarianism in sport and football and uniting sport and things like that. Believe it or not, actually, the army came on board fairly quickly, the police came on board, then gradually over the years, etc. In a way it was a multi-problemed approach and that was all the time creating the infrastructure, we called it "sub-political work", that would make it easier for these sort of political agreements to happen. Some people call it pre-political work, so that eventually when it came to getting the politicians together we had the preliminary information. First of all a lot of society had already been changed, which made it a bit easier for them to move.

Secondly, a lot of the people who'd been involved in the bridge building work were actually moving into politics, particularly the young loyalists and the women's coalition, etc. So we had entrism, as it were, into the whole political thing. It was still quite difficult to get a political agreement, but at least the back had been broken on a lot of the work.