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Staff blog

BLOG: Agreement 25 – Queen’s University Belfast’s role in helping to create a better future for all

"We are delighted to offer our University campus as a public space for debate and dialogue of immense importance to the local and global challenge of building, maintaining and strengthening peace."

Lanyon in sunlight
A blog by Ryan Feeney, Acting Vice-President (Strategic Engagement and External Affairs) 

At Queen’s University Belfast, we are committed to making a meaningful impact at home and across the world.  

As a civic university and anchor institution in Northern Ireland, this includes contributing to socioeconomic progress for everyone in this region. We do this in a range of ways: as an employer, as an educator of tomorrow’s workforce, through research and development and community and public engagement. A recent report, published by economics and policy consultancy London Economics, highlighted that Queen’s delivers £3.2 billion a year of economic impact.<

Ultimately, these contributions all boil down to one thing: our hope for the future of this place  combined with the belief that we have a role to play in helping to create that future.

And as Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton so eloquently put it in an address she made at Queen’s on the occasion of her installation as Chancellor of our University in 2021:  

“With hope comes responsibilities. [...]. Institutions like Queen’s help build a bulwark against authoritarianism, sectarianism, and divisiveness. This is where people come to learn, to expand their understanding of our world, to engage with opposing viewpoints and values. To develop a compelling vision of democratic cooperation. And, undergirding all of that is education, the essential foundation of citizenship in a democracy.” 

It is therefore with extraordinary pride that we host Agreement 25 at Queen’s this week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. In doing so, we are delighted to offer our University campus as a public space for debate and dialogue of immense importance to the local and global challenge of building, maintaining and strengthening peace.

The conference is an exemplar of how we, as a University, play an engaged role as an institution embedded in the communities that surround us – a role that is built on service and inclusion.  

By acting as a platform bringing together key local, national and global figures, past and present, along with community and charity representatives, academic experts, our students, members of the public and a range of partners, we are honoured to facilitate debates and discussions around the historic achievements of 25 years ago and dialogue on the way forward into a better future for all.

Indeed, inclusion, engagement and extending access to knowledge are responsibilities that guide us in our public mission  as enshrined in our University’s Social Charter. This includes a commitment to partnership-working and communicating Queen’s research to wide and diverse audiences.

We have therefore collaborated recently in the production of a landmark two-part RTÉ documentary series to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1998 Agreement. Broadcast on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player, The Agreement, produced by Fine Point Films for RTÉ in association with Queen’s and Northern Ireland Screen, and presented by Miriam O’Callaghan, examines the negotiations leading up to, and the aftermath of, the signing of the historic accord in April 1998 and the referendum that followed six weeks later.


Pictured L-R are Trevor Birney, Director; Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s; Miriam O’Callaghan, Presenter; and Ryan Feeney, Executive Producer and interim Vice-President of Strategic Engagement and External Affairs at Queen’s.

Queen’s has a long tradition of engaging with communities, and we are continuously striving to extend our engagement infrastructure and positive impact.

As we reflect on the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, we are reminded that building peace and a better future is a shared endeavour, and one that is strengthened by inclusion, equality, diversity, and the platforming of a wide range of voices and perspectives so all are heard.

Our university community is honoured to be in a unique position to provide an occasion for the furthering of this important undertaking as we host the Agreement 25 conference this week. We do so, as ever, with a profound sense of pride in this place and its people and, of course, with great hope for the future.


To find out more about our Agreement 25 celebrations, including how to access the livestream of the event, visit the Agreement 25 website.

Photo: Ryan Feeney
Ryan Feeney
Acting Vice-President (Strategic Engagement and External Affairs)