On 25th March 2021, Forward Thinking convened an online workshop with BBC Northern Ireland correspondent, Julian O’Neill. Mr O’Neil shared his perspectives on reporting the conflict in Northern Ireland, as well as the contemporary challenges in a post-conflict and post-Brexit era. One of the key themes explored during the discussion was the role competing national aspirations play in exacerbating divisions between communities. Whilst violence is no longer the dominant news narrative in Northern Ireland, conflicting identities – specifically between unionists and nationalists – still play a prominent role in shaping how the conflict is reported and perceived.
The workshop was joined by prominent Israeli journalists, as well as a senior figure from the Likud party and a prominent Ultra-Orthodox religious leader, who sits on Israel’s Council of the Israeli Chief rabbinate. Through the lens of the Irish conflict, participants gained a more nuanced understanding into the ways in which journalism shapes political and public discourse. Future workshops will explore how journalism can shape Israeli perceptions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and examine the media’s role in society more generally.