In my ongoing contacts with the Secretary of State and with the Northern Ireland Executive, including in the context of the North South Ministerial Council, I have pressed for the re-establishment of the Civic Forum as a valuable and, as yet, unimplemented provision of the Good Friday Agreement. In my address to the British Irish Association on 7 September, 2013, I pointed out that Northern Ireland was currently facing many difficult issues and that it was neither sensible nor realistic to expect the political system to shoulder these on its own. I have previously put on the record of the Dáil that I support the establishment of a Civic Forum which would provide for a broad range of voices on community relations and stimulate informed public debate in relation to key societal challenges. I welcome the extent to which Richard Haass, Independent Chair of the All-Party Group on Parades, Flags and Emblems and the Past, has encouraged groups and representatives of wider civil society to contribute ideas to the talks process.
I will be hosting a Reconciliation Networking Forum event in Dublin Castle in October 2013 for people who are involved in community, peace-building, public policy or reconciliation work, to discuss what civil society, including the community sector, can and should do to meet the reconciliation challenges ahead. This is in line with the view of the Government that a strong and resilient civic society can play an important role in building a more reconciled and prosperous Northern Ireland.