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Renowned experts discuss policing and politics in divided societies at Queen’s event

Queen’s hosted an event on ‘Policing and Politics in Divided Societies’ with guest speakers Dr Barbara Stephenson and Sir Hugh Orde. 

Pictured L-R are: Dr Peter McLoughlin, Queen's; Michael Davidson, Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Foundation; Professor Stuart Elborn, Queen's; Sir Hugh Orde; Dr Barbara Stephenson; Professor Richard English, Queen's; and Dr Kurt Taroff, Queen's.

Dr Barbara J. Stephenson is Vice Provost for Global Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the former U.S. Consul General in Belfast (2001-2004) and Sir Hugh Orde is the former Chief Constable of the PSNI (2002-2009). 

During the event Dr Stephenson and Sir Hugh discussed the challenging early years of the Good Friday Agreement’s implementation after 1998, and the complex politics around policing reform following the Patten Report in 1999. They also shared their insights from their work and engagement with other societies, such as El Salvador, Colombia and the Philippines, where there are similar ethnic conflict or security issues to Northern Ireland, and explored whether the peace process provided any valuable lessons for these regions.  

Dr Stephenson said: “Of all the post-conflict work I did in my decades as an American diplomat, I never saw another police reform effort as successful as the one undertaken in Northern Ireland. The transformation from RUC to PSNI was profound, and it was carried out without a significant lapse in law and order.”  

Sir Hugh commented: “Delivering the Patten Report was without question the most challenging and rewarding task of my professional career. 

“It worked because of the total commitment of the service, the independent oversight structures that reported on progress and the communities that engaged and informed through the district policing partnerships.” 

Chairman of the RUC GC Foundation, Stephen White said: “I am indebted to Queen’s and the esteemed speakers for ensuring that the event was such a great success. The RUC GC Foundation is committed to sharing lessons and promoting learning about the role of policing in society.” 

Professor Richard English, Director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s commented: “Policing has been and remains central to political progress in Northern Ireland, and is a vitally important issue in many other divided societies. Honest discussion of the complexities involved is essential, and it was excellent that Queen’s hosted this important event.” 

The event was chaired by Dr Peter McLoughlin from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics and the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s.

He said: “Events like this help remind us how far we have come in our peace process, and the creation of a more representative police service for Northern Ireland in the years since 1998 was a crucial part of this. The efforts of figures like Sir Hugh and Ambassador Stephenson, through whom the US government continued its support for peace in the region, were clearly vital.” 

Featured Expert
Photo: Professor Richard English

Professor Richard English

School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics (HAPP), The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
Photo: Dr Peter McLoughlin

Dr Peter McLoughlin

Senior Lecturer
School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics (HAPP)

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