New podcast series asks 'what Northern Ireland means to me'
A NEW podcast series has asked people about their thoughts on Northern Ireland in its centenary year.
The 20-episode series, What Northern Ireland Means to Me, has asked contributors to reflect on the past 100 years and to envisage what it might be like in the future.
Presented by journalist and broadcaster Julia Paul on behalf of Shared Future News, contributors include activists, writers, clergy, entrepreneurs and policy makers from across the political spectrum - including those in favour of a united Ireland.
Three episodes of the series have so far been launched, with more to be released every week.
In one episode, writer Claire Mitchell said she sees Northern Ireland "as a temporary and a temporal kind of idea" which is part of the longer timeline of Irish history.
"I think it's just really important to say again, I have no hostility to Northern Ireland," she said.
"I'm happy to say the words; I do not bristle. It's a practical reality right now that I totally accept. But my gaze, I think, is longer.
"You know, Northern Ireland, it's been around 100 years; it's not how we started. I don't think it's how we're going to end up.
"And I think it's really important to love and cherish the heritage of this part of the island whilst also embracing the change and the flux of it."
Darren Ferguson, the founder of Beyond Skin which uses the arts to combat racism and sectarianism, said Northern Ireland was a "global jukebox".
"Music and sound is in our DNA," he said.
"I had this conversation the other day with somebody, saying that west Belfast has a different sound than other parts of the city because the black taxis mostly service that part of the city — those big, diesel black taxis shaping that sound environment there."
Ms Paul said it had been "a joy" to hear such a diverse range of experiences and views from people who call the north home.
She said the short podcasts - lasting around four minutes in total - aimed to be accessible to all.
"We wanted to get as wide a range of views as possible from many different walks of life," she said.
"Each person speaks for three minutes. The idea was to get them to reflect on the centenary and how things might be in a hundred years' time.
"Some people have talked really clearly about how the entity of Northern Ireland is a staging post whereas other people wanted to talk about Northern Ireland as home and (the place) where they feel most comfortable."
Allan Leonard, editor of Shared Future News, said the podcasts wanted to give people a voice.
"With the podcast we seek to present a form of ‘constructive nostalgia’ — to share our histories as well as our desired futures, so that perhaps in another century we can reflect on our plurality of thoughts and aspirations," he said.
The project was funded by the Shared History Fund, delivered by The Heritage Fund on behalf of the Northern Ireland Office.
What Northern Ireland Means to Me is available on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the podcast can contact Shared Future News at email@example.com