Devolved Nation Inquiry in Northern Ireland
The Commission’s Northern Ireland Inquiry has decided that its deliberations will be citizen led. We are currently embarking upon a series of dialogues so that we are informed and guided by what the people of Northern Ireland feel about the future of food, farming and the countryside. Given our current political stalemate and the very significant impacts of Brexit on the border and our relations with the Republic of Ireland, we are determined to ensure that Northern Ireland voices are amplified in this debate.
Our review of existing research and our own discussions have led us to conclude that there is a nexus around the theme of ‘reconnection’.
The kind of questions that we plan to explore with citizens, include:
What would help restore the connection between farming in and our desire to eat healthy, affordable, good quality food?
What would a social contract between farmers and the rest of society look like?
How do we protect our food supplies from the impact of climate change?
How do we ensure that farming practices are compatible with a healthy environment?
How do we reduce food waste?
Where does the balance lie between producing food for export and for local consumption?
How can we develop the appreciation and experience of the countryside by people of all ages and backgrounds?
What is the role of land in providing a resilient future for our society?
Questions on identity, place and peace-building.
A second nexus that stands out for us is that of ‘governance’: issues such as regulation, an independent body and joined up policy, together with power, empowerment and trust. We will approach this by using governance as the lens through which we approach the second phase of our work – our own deliberations on what we have heard from citizens. Broadly, the task we are setting ourselves is to recommend what governance structures, policies and processes are needed to deliver the kind of vision of reconnection emerging from the first phase.
The Commission’s Northern Ireland Inquiry, therefore, will identify ‘leverage points’ in what is a complex system and provide advice on the most effective ways in which to intervene. In taking a ‘systems thinking’ approach we will seek to make the connections across government, business and civil society that others have not and provide a route map to achieve a vision for which there is public support.
Our Leadership Group comprises 13 people who combine expertise and experience with a commitment to listening, deliberating and proposing solutions.