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Remembering Brendan Duddy: the Secret Peacemaker

Remembering Brendan Duddy: the Secret Peacemaker

Presented as part of TIHR70 festival.

Tavistock Institute

November 21, 2017

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  1. Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney Masons, when they start upon a

    building, Are careful to test out the scaffolding; Make sure that planks won't slip at busy points, Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints. And yet all this comes down when the job's done Showing off walls of sure and solid stone. So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be Old bridges breaking between you and me Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall Confident that we have built our wall.
  2. Brendan introduced to Tavistock “I was in my fish and

    chip in William Street when Paddy (Bogside) Doherty came in and ordered me to Dublin. Paddy’s force of personality is so great that I said “Okay, what for?” “The Irish Foundation for Human Development is having its first Irish Convention. I think you would benefit from it if you came.” Typically Paddy. The conference totally changed my life forever. Professor Ivor Brown, Paddy Doherty and Garret O’ Connor, along with Paddy Wally and a team of Americans were the staff, and after a week of 9 am to 9 pm sitting in a room doing nothing (as I then experienced it) I was shattered, completely wreaked, lost, angry and bewildered. I was determined to never again be so lost. I went annually, for the next four years, to the Leicester International Conference, and learned and learned and learned. I was like a penguin returning to the ocean. It was a whole new world, a new language. I was preparing to sit down with the British. I had learned my trade; James Prior brought in a Devolution bill. Robert and I began a courtship. We had a mountain of distrust between us on both sides to begin with. Future generations may wonder what the ambience was like and unless you have experienced racial hatred, or the anger against Germany and Japan after world war two, or taken sides on the Arab Israeli conflict, or have been abandoned by your lover, you will never know. We began by accepting the position as it existed.”
  3. Brendan leading traders out from a meeting with security chiefs

    to stop their plan to seal the two main streets off from the City Centre.
  4. Hunger Strikes 1980 & 1981. The five demands written on

    OPUS headed paper • the right not to wear a prison uniform; • the right not to do prison work; • the right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits; • the right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week; • full restoration of remission lost through the protest.
  5. Note from Bobby Sands to Brendan, shortly before he died

    after 66 days on hunger strike “To you and your friends, may I be permitted to say a last goodbye, if my going is to mean anything, may it mean peace and freedom to you and yours. On behalf of myself and the others, I must add that we deeply appreciate all your efforts on our behalf”. M.S.F.B.
  6. Brendan had a life-changing stroke in 2010. In 2013 he

    met the Dalai Lama who described Brendan as “a hero”
  7. Letter to Martin Mc Guinness August 30th 1997 “SPLITTING” I

    started off to write one paper about the talks process and have come to the conclusion that a second paper dealing with the effects of the process on the negotiators and the movement in general, is necessary. The subject is splitting, and splits. Over the last 20 years I have been very fortunate to work with some of the leading psychologists on aspects of human behaviour. It is very easy to recognise a split and very painful if one is caught up in it. The conditions necessary for a split to occur can also be very clearly defined. What is not known, is the internal mechanisms which actually make the process of splitting happen. There is a belief system that the Republican Movement is more prone to splitting than most other organisations. This is not true. The reality is, that splitting is a most common phenomenon throughout the entire world and in every possible type of organisation. Ireland is no different to Alaska in this respect. The most common split in modern life is divorce. The statistics prove the point. What is so fearful at this very historic time (August 29th 1997) is that at the back of every Republican’s mind are these questions:- 1. Will the talks last? 2. Is this the end of the struggle? 3. Will we have another nightmare of splits, splitting, betrayal and accusations? 4. Is there anything which can be done to try and understand this phenomenon? Cover-ups are not the answer, because all this does is block out reality and force the leadership and the team of negotiators to focus more on their internal fractions rather than on their primary task of negotiation, settlement and agreement. Again, the question is why do splits occur and how are they best dealt with?
  8. Before writing this paper I checked with colleagues. No one

    had any clear answers but certain common criteria did emerge. The higher the idealism, the more intense the comradeship and shared struggle, then the more likely that any settlement whatsoever will cause a split. It is as if the fear of arriving after such a long journey of struggle causes a tidal-wave of convulsion, creating a split. It is the intensity of feeling and the certainty that one’s position is the true and only correct one, which fuels this phenomenon. The worst aspect of it is that it would appear that the leadership is selected as guardians of the unattainable ideal, the perfect solution, and when this cannot be fully and completely achieved, an immediate sense of betrayal occurs and the splitting process has begun. In Ireland, you often hear older people speaking of how brother fought brother, and father fought son during the terrible civil war which followed the treaty negotiations. In hindsight, one can choose which side one would have been on with remarkable self-assurance, but this doesn’t come close to explaining the bitterness and the intensity which tore families and comrades apart. It would appear that the intensity of the struggle precludes a compromise settlement and the ideal fantasy position is held to be fully obtainable, if only the chosen leadership had been good enough and strong enough to negotiate better. The de Valera strategy position of staying in Ireland as his team negotiated in London, is acting out this very phenomenon and one can never know what the reality position would or could have been if de Valera had put all his energies and included himself in the negotiating team from day one in London. Again, this is one of the characteristics of the split. The leader, demanding the most, settling for nothing less than the perfect solution, stands on top of the mountain at ease with himself condemning the futile efforts of all those below.
  9. When Daithi O Conaill, Ruairi O Bradaigh and Sean Keenan

    split and walked out of the 1986 Ard Fheis, they did so in their own understanding that they and they alone were holding true to the Republican ideals, and that the changes and compromises being proposed by the platform and accepted by over 90% of the members present, were a betrayal of true Irish republicanism. I knew these men well and had worked with them for many years and the one phrase which springs to mind to describe them is “that they were honourable men.” But the thought of change was unbearable, so they formed a faction and split. I would maintain that the nature of the task facing the leadership of the Republican Movement at 15th September 1997 talks will create splits and that this should be recognised for what it is:- a fear of change and a loss of the security offered by holding on to the idealism of the perfect solution. The phrase which springs to my mind at this moment is that of the Ulster Loyalist “No Surrender! Not an inch!” clearly seen, and realistically seen by the Republican Movement and everyone else as a fantasy, an unattainable perfect loyalist position. So, the phenomenon of splitting crosses all divides and already the various loyalist groups are faced with this problem. Billy Wright and the Loyalist Volunteer Force seeing themselves as the only true holders of loyalist ideals. It is as if the process demands that some one or group occupies this extreme, no compromise position on behalf of their community in every struggle. The Hut-Tutsi struggle in Rwanda, the Seb-Croat-Muslim struggle in Yugoslavia are current examples of the acting-out, with dreadful consequences the phenomenon of splitting. The people caught up in these splits saw genocide as a viable option. This is how intensely the phenomenon of splitting can take hold. There are no easy answers to the phenomenon of splitting, but knowledge, understanding and explanations of the thought processes of the negotiating team at the September talks will go a long way to help avoid the unthinkable. The primary task of the leadership of the Republican Movement is to negotiate an Irish settlement. Every other consideration is an indulgence. Good luck to yourself and your team and my thoughts are with you. June
  10. Brendan with Martin McGuinness in April 2016 in Brendan’s home

    in the Glen Road. Martin passed away on 21st March 2017. Brendan passed away less that 2 months later.
  11. Martin McGuinness “One of the most surprising revelations was whenever

    (the Columbian Gvt) started to talk to me about the back channel …and they mentioned the name Brendan Duddy…. When they opened a back channel with FARC they named it “Brendan”.
  12. Michael Oatley visits Brendan at home on 3rd April 1998

    (exactly a week before the signing of The Good Friday Agreement)
  13. Michael Oatley in the kitchen of Brendan’s house on 3rd

    April 1998 (exactly a week before the signing of The Good Friday Agreement)
  14. Michael Oatley at the iconic “Free Derry Corner” on 3rd

    April 1998 (exactly a week before the signing of The Good Friday Agreement
  15. “An Irish Peacemaker” by Gordon Lawrence “One man who consistently

    followed human hope to shape his ideas was Brendan Duddy, an Irish businessman, who was secretly engaged in the role of a peacemaker in Ireland since the early 1960s. This role he created by his own authority without the benefit, or constraints, of being accountable to any grouping with the purpose of making peace…..Here, it is the exercise of authority that is the subject, not the narrative of the ‘Troubles'. He is an example of bottom-up leadership.”
  16. Brendan Duddy in his own words:- “I believed it could

    be done by one being, any being, providing that the belief was present. I never doubted my journey, my work, my Peace Process and understanding how difficult it is to be alone.”
  17. Brendan and the Third Space Integral to Brendan’s approach to

    negotiation was the creation, in his mind, of the third space. Family and work take up two of the spaces, with the third being for democracy, civil society and creative engagement. The third space is a mental space in which the ideas of a warring culture, with differing beliefs, can be re-shaped to enable forward thinking and open talk. The purpose was to launch the idea of dialogue in which people could allow each other to contribute to a peaceful settlement by moving to a third space of collaboration. Brendan’s place will probably never be re-filled. Now, there’s a huge void in our family space, in our community place and in our hearts.