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No response to tender for research project into ‘use of language’ by media in Northern Ireland


The project was to look at the use of language by media in Northern Ireland (stock image of BBC headquarters in NI)

The project was to look at the use of language by media in Northern Ireland (stock image of BBC headquarters in NI)

The project was to look at the use of language by media in Northern Ireland (stock image of BBC headquarters in NI)

Plans for a project to explore the “use of language” by the media in Northern Ireland will not go ahead as planned.

The research was to form part of a project exploring the role northern-based media outlets play in the public debate on political issues.

This was part of the Future Relationship Conversations Project, which is partly funded by the Irish government.

The project is led by a Derry-based community development organisation, the Holywell Trust, and they issued a tender for the media research last year.

However, a spokesperson for the Holywell Trust last week said no tender applications were received and, as a result, the project would not proceed as planned.

When details of the proposed media project emerged last year, it was criticised by some unionist politicians because of the involvement of the Irish government.

The tender stated that the aim of the research had been “to review and assess the impact of the use of language by Northern Ireland-based media, and the positive/negative contribution that this makes to addressing division and deepening understanding of the constitutional issue”.

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A grant of €55,000 was awarded by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin in December 2020 to the Holywell Trust through its Reconciliation Fund.

The fund annually awards grants to organisations "working to build better relations within and between traditions in Northern Ireland, between north and south, and between Ireland and Britain".

A DFA spokesperson said that while the proposed media research project was to be partly funded by the Irish government, it would have had no part in choosing the topics researched.

Although the media research project will not proceed, plans are in place for a separate aspect of the Future Relationship Conversations Project to go ahead.

The Holywell Trust has issued a tender for research to be carried out into how Protestant people living in Co Donegal believe they have been treated since the partition of Ireland.

According to the tender document, the exact remit of the project will be to look at “attitudes of the Protestant community in Laggan area of east Donegal (and their family members in Northern Ireland) on their acceptance within the Republic of Ireland since the partition of Ireland, and Northern Ireland-related issues, including the constitutional question”.

It is planned that the final research report will be published in June.

The tender document claims there is a “need, and growing desire across communities, to have a conversation on the future constitutional status of Northern Ireland and Ireland”.

“The conversation needs to be broad, encompassing all future possibilities,” the document adds.

“The Future Relationship Conversations project engages with the community, to begin to remove uncertainty and move the conversation beyond the normal identity-focused assumptions.

“The Brexit process has also clearly demonstrated the dangers in holding referendums with limited information on the outcome of the decisions.

"We are convinced that if people have been informed and engaged on issues, and have the opportunity to shape and inform debate, that the impact of the conversations will be less divisive in local communities.”

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