Good Relations practice in the contested society of Northern Ireland demands that staff work to a mental model where people are seen as equal and different citizens rather than members of partisan traditions. This is a demanding personal and professional challenge aided by working to a value base of securing equity, valuing difference and promoting interdependence (Eyben et al. 1997) and the values underpinning A Shared Future (OFMDFM 2005). Building Good Relations between people from ‘different religious beliefs, political opinions and racial groups’ (NI Act 1998, Section 2) means that staff working for a public body need support in maintaining a critical distance from their personal traditions and the communities they serve if, professionally, they are to work towards a model of citizenship not partisanship.From 2003 to 2006 the Probation Board for Northern Ireland committed an across-grade development group of staff to consider how the service can support Good Relations and build a society based on ‘citizenship’. The Good Relations tasks of staff were understood to be to promote personal development and grow an ease with meeting difference within the agency and with clients (Wilson 2006).When present-day relationships, in both contested and secure societies, can so readily be dominated by fears of difference, we can no longer expect individuals and small groups to risk all to protect those different from them. It is now time to invite people in political life, civic life, faith, trade unions and public life to show ‘civic courage’ (Shriver 2005) and to build civic-minded organisations and public institutions that become blocks to the toleration of demeaning behaviours and establish Good Relations between our diverse citizens as an intercultural and citizenship-based necessity.The securing of an agreed law and order system, and the experience of being equal and different citizens under that law, are deeply intertwined (Wright 1987, 1996). It is imperative that criminal justice agencies see the goals of wider Good Relations and delivering a service to different citizens as central to their practice.
|Journal||Irish Probation Journal|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2007|
- Good Relations
- organisational learning