« Desert Island Discs

Professor Monica McWilliams, social scientist

2019-06-09 | 🔗
Professor Monica McWilliams is an academic, peace campaigner and former politician. In 1996, she was the co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition political party and was elected to a seat at the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations, which led to the Belfast (Good Friday) Peace Agreement in 1998. She served as a member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly from 1998-2003 and was the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission from 2005-2011. She continues her academic research into domestic violence and is Emeritus Professor in the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University. She also specialises in conflict resolution and working with women who are in conflict situations. Alongside her academic work and peace work she currently sits on the Independent Reporting Commission for Northern Ireland. BOOK CHOICE: Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing Volumes 4 and 5 (known as the Women’s anthology) LUXURY ITEM: A snorkel CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Il Postino by Luis Bacalov Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Sarah Taylor
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Pvc sounds music, radio broadcasts, hallo unlearned event, and this is the desert island discs. Podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island and for rights reasons. The music is shorter than the original broadcast. Hope you enjoy listening. My castle, this week. Is professor monti come at Williams. She cofounded the northern ireland women's coalition party in nineteen ninety six, bringing women from different communities together in a bid to find peace.
Despite facing intimidation, opposition and even violence. Two years later, she was a signatory to the belfast agreement, also known as the good friday agreement setting out terms for peace in northern ireland. She later became chief commissioner of the northern ireland human rights commission. As a social scientist, her area of interest is domestic violence. special in societies touched by conflict in the nineteen nineties. Her study investigating the connections between paramilitary violence and abuse and intimate relationships with the first of its kind. Last year she called it an updated report. Looking at the situation, the day beyond northern ireland, her peace building work has taken up all over the world. She says in working with people from different communities. I have learned not only be rooted and proud of my own background, but to shift. able to understand how people can be proud of this. Professor Monti commute williams, welcome Does island discs? Thank you very much and has worked
building the northern ireland power. Sharing talks have begun again after breaking down more than two years ago. In january twenty seventeen, how optimistic all you that they'll be successful this time, I remain optimistic it's always an unfinished business peace building. I never thought when I left the table and ninety ninety it on good friday that it would take us over two decades to continue to work as hard as we the day that we signed the agreement, and it has been very tough, but I still believe we will get there. I think the atmosphere has changed. Unfortunately, as is often the case, it's because of a tragedy, the death of the young women journalists near mickey few weeks ago, but it all amazing that funeral to see people rising, up and saying enough is enough and, as she said herself, once in her own words. It has to get better and we
are better than this when you taste peace and you have the prize of peace, there is no going back. Tell us about the first piece of music that we're gonna here too why you chosen well in ninety ninety four, when my children, small. It was announced that president Clinton and the first lady Hillary Clinton were coming to belfast. The cessation of conflict had been declared the seas irish- and it was a moment- widdle waited on and it was one of those moments where you weren't sure, is this going to last this time, and it was christmas and I'll, never forget it. Had to walk about three miles because you weren't allied to bring cars anywhere close to the city enter mundo turned up. There was never a hundred thousand from east and west protestant catholic nationalist unionist republican loyalist every shit of diversity were. There
to listen and suddenly found morrison started. Singing there will be days like this and I never forgot it. In fact it was a turning point for me because I began to think I can. I contribute nigh to making this little did I think, two years later, I'd be at peace table whether it will be, This one way is ever by then the ways blackmail, others, which well mamma, told me this you'll, be fine,
I send an days like this professor monti commit williams. You currently working as an academic, research and domestic violence in conflict in post conflict societies. What he sees the relationship between domestic violence and conflict in wider society will during conflict, it's very hidden because the hospitals and the police officers are taken up of so much of what they call terrorism, but I too a great deal of domestic terrorism is also going on behind the scenes, because the women can't speak I'd. They can't seek out the support that they need. And it goes on at much higher levels. When I did My study. I was able to show that as many women were being killed by their own partners as their where in the conflict itself, which was quite shocking. It was ninety ninety three, when you first study, the subject in Ulster and you carried out more research to update your findings. Last year Was the situation now
it's an enormous difference, what difference does peacemaker means? Neither support services where the police and the army were not able to into areas. In fact, in one case, they came by helicopter in The united kingdom in a place called northern ireland. They were having too respond to domestic violence by helicopter, and so of course on them. It has changed and the satisfaction levels with police. Because what happen, and peace agreements is that there's criminal justice reforms, there's police reforms, and that makes it more representative, more accountable and more transparent tankers. Music. Tell me about your second disk worthy chosen, it the tunnel. Of so well. Well, I'm from that part of the world, I think she'll colder in those lyrics just up solidly a pet amazed. Everything that was terrible about what we call an ordinary troubles, and he pictures a scene of devastation and the words about
what's last and gone forever, is something that I never forget, but it's also a story of how we can move on and in the way, twice on some patrick's day each year that we were there peace negotiations. We were invited and since the song we sang- and I recall filters current John Hume and press others all singing us together, but when return. To see our time, my car and the gas full quota
and the town I loved so well, professor monti commit Williams. You were born in the mid fifties and grew up in kill re in county, Londonderry one in five children. What are your early memories from that time? Well, I was very fortunate to grow up on a farm. My father was killed. A dealer I have have fantastic memories of learning to run after the sheep, and he told me not to she's after the one that left the flock, because that little woman, come back when he saw you taken the wrong turn. We were a catholic found and went to conference school? What was it like that? I loved school loved books, I loved poetry, We have the opportunity of drama, so I participated in every school opera and every concert I want a few prizes at the called it elocution because obviously the part of the world I came from Ulster scots would have been a dialect and that wasn't
always going down too well with the nuns, and so they always we needed to have proper elocution classes in order to learn to speak properly, but it was a very good education and my hockey coach was a non, so it was quite a picture. Watch your flying up and in the field the full none habit bit fly, but she was greater than we did when Clayton talking much sooner. They were incredibly happy days except I do recall the teacher one saying when she was doing a war poem would be great if we had a gun and my father, of course, having sheep that were being worried by dogs had gone, and I thought nothing of putting it into my hockey bag and bring it to school, and it was at the height of the troubles and, of course, when I put it up and minded it altogether and sat at the table she walked in and she nearly fainted and she said well who has brought this into school and I said but You said yesterday that you needed a gun, and I thought that was just natural, that I should bring you on
well. I'm remembered now as the girl with a gun she's going to be very ironic, and how much did you mix with your protestant counterparts as a young girl? Well, that was the sad thing we actually didn't. There was to have everything to youth clubs to done souls. Of course, to schools. So from the age of a four, when we went to school till I was eighteen, I could We say to you. I never mixed with anyone from the protestant religion which I want to this is your third disk tell us about. It when I first saw l pacino the postman, just brought me to apply a submissive, small island, corsica, thinkin The chilean poet Neruda was writing, deport refer the postman, and here we are a story of romance, of an island, beautiful scenery, beautiful music, but also politics, because it was find that little island, neither time water supply
I became such a divisive issue to the point where the person who, fell in love and married, the woman was killed, so it was very poignant but when I hear this music, it carries me to another place. It is so bureau Went hunting the the the part of the film soundtrack too ill pacino, composed by luis back
professor monti, commit williams. We talked about it. A little bit. Tell me about your mom. What sort of role model was she d She was in credit. women in that she had markedly it is she very independent and, as a result at a very early age. She gave me a very strong message, which was open have some money that you can call your own because back then when women married that was the end of their jobs, and she was a great emphasis on education? What about your being before she marries a she worked in a creamery in a battery factory. I still buy that butter in memory of her and it was an old protestant workforce, except for her and she had the strongest strongest trains and who visited her when she was dinner eightys and ninetys and
and I felt incredibly privileged that these women, from a completely different background, come into our home to tell us what wonderful supervisor. She had been to them and they came to a funeral and it was something I never forget. in a country like ours, were there were so much division to see. This united spurt of these women from the factory intended queens university in Belfast june, the early seventys the troubles were ongoing. How much was student life affected queens university was a place like a sanctuary, but you were exposed, To me, night terrible thing happened nineteen. Seventy four and my second a year- and I was starting to do part of my finals- very good friend of Mine- was murdered and it was devastating and it was frightening. We no electricity. We were trying to study for example, we had no food, there is no petrol. There was curfew.
and then to get the news that he had been killed. What should have been and where, in many ways happy days of our lives were also tinge. incredible tragedy and with that, as the background, what you were experiencing when not scholarship from the university of Michigan came through. It must have been forced into mind that it was a good time to completely. I thought I'm getting out of here, and maybe were come back, but I just have to get away from this. Least cause. I can't see it at this ending and I had the most wonderful opportunity without scholarship to go and study urban planning and architecture in inner city, Detroit at the university of Michigan. But what I couldn't bear was watching places at home burning dying. I would go by myself most nights to watch the six o clock news, and the main stories were northern ireland and
Soon, as I got my qualification, I decided to head back home, I had I believe- and I still do have actually, that if you get the opportunity to have an education like that or a qualification, You should go home and make use of it the time for your next disk. Why have you chosen this one at this? Is some cars king? You ve got a friend think every one of us needs a rock in our lives. I was very far day of my wonderful sister and she he is not only a sister by birth but she's, a friend and also on the day that I got married, this was the song I chose vast name and
c windows inside of king and you ve got a friend professor Monti commit williams in ninety ninety six. You became one of the founders of the northern ireland women's coalition. Now, as its name suggests, is a party made up from women across the political divides. In northern ireland. Why was it needed? Well, we had been working together for the previous two decades. and more many of us had cut our teeth on asking for the sex discrimination act, big and to northern ireland, and so we figured you know what there's enough allowed that unites us here and if there's gonna be peace nickel, patients. Why shouldn't there be some women at that table, and so we wrote to the world
parties and they didn't bother answering and we said, ralph muddled, get together and see if there is a potential for us to do it, we had to get elected, we had to get odor posters and the post is wearing testing. We have good by the dinosaurs. They were pretty pathetic, boasters they the little dinosaur, but the message that some of the political leaders sent back to us was how dare you call us dinosaurs and we said but journey not in the poster. So well, self identifying and that didn't make us popular, but it did give us a lot of spirit and a lot of attitude and that's what be brought to the two will. You party gained two seats in the northern ireland assembly. How were you and your fellow members, greeted in the debating chamber. Well have already experienced quite a bit of fat.
Deletion in derogatory remarks. Some of it was massage earnest, just downright misogynist, go home and have babies, and the only women that should be at this table should be the ones who are going to publish it. Have you seen any of that for each again and because there are documentaries being made by eta, and and what's it like to revisit, not because at the time to an extent, presumably its normalized in his part of your daily experience may have been normalizing deal experience, but it was also incredibly hurtful and at times damaging, of course, a picture confidence away, and made me think of my doing the right thing here when, let's you're being fed that diet. You have to rebuild yourself up, and you have to come to these issues more about them and is about you. But this party use a thing What have I done to deserve this watching film footage of that time shows an incredibly macho, to say the least political culture. How different things now
I think the dinosaurs I've morphed either because they wouldn't cotton camera saying what they said back then, but I also think there out it should solve changed that would they were quite dismissive of us guilty as not being a serious political organization that we wouldn't that be expertise or skills to be good negotiators. We proved them wrong and I think today, northern ireland a different place. We have women political leaders, thirty percent of the legislative body is made up of women. Do they make a difference? Time will tell, but I do think it is really important for younger women to see that they have role models nigh either media or in politics and instead petitions that were so male dominated, that a young woman couldn't even have believed that dream that you could do that job. Neither can it's time to go to the music. This is your fifth death. this is bread and roses I remember, in the seventies, walking up royal avenue
on international women's day when international women's day was not famous at all There were so few of us, but we did bring. It are colored banners and we did bring I'd or songs, and this was the song we sang and words of it are incredibly powerful. I only of sons, there's a line in the song saying and we march for men too, because They are also some others children. So it's a budget seeing the world and its saying everywhere that yes were fighting for brain, and were struggling all the time to put bread not table, but there are days when we just I love those roses as we go marching marching. We have that two bar man, or the children in the long run
These were wrong like laws as well as those rules We join buyers and her sister Mimi fourteen year with bread and roses. Professor Monica willing geometric bias. I did and solve in the village and gray. She came to sing- and I remember thinking, oh heavens, the sphere- Woman from the united states has come all the way here as coffee drove the northern ireland women's coalition, you were present at the negotiations of the belfast agreement. What perspective were you looking to bring to proceedings and the belfast agreement good friday agreement, it was principle was nothing was agreed,
everything was agreed and everything was huge. First, we wanted a process that was inclusive because we set if you're gonna, be part of the problem. You need to be part of the solution. Whereas others at the tables did not want some of those individuals who had been engaged in armed conflict to be at the table. But the substantive issues were really important. It was that issue that we talk to fight. We don't want other children to after be educated, the way we where they need to live and learn together, and so we brought integrated education, we breathe mixed housing where people would get the opportunity to live in the same hiding areas, issues about young people, the most important one that wouldn't have been there had the women not been, there was the issue of victims, and we were going to do for the victims in the future- and we say haven't delivered on that and the way that we promised, but at least it suddenly agreement,
You and your colleagues went to south africa while negotiations were ongoing. What did you learn there about resolution? I think it was the most profound learning experience of my life, we were actually locked up in a military camp in a place called earnest and in eastern cape. We went with blackened date windows on a helicopter from johannesburg airport. we didn't even know where we were going and but concerned about high. I was gonna for my children because we were told we shouldn't even have any communications and yet for three days we listened and listened to people like president mandela to de clerks people to ITALY. As these people to thee the rope already to the freedom front, and we learned so much that undermine twas you don't have to take. Were telling you to europe situation but would like you to listen to highway, not to where we're out and after those three days, we were different people all of us and
I recall the cease fire, but that a week after we came home and entered the talks and stayed and should feel they political party. Remained at the table and I think this south africans you'll, never know how much we appreciate it, but they did for us. Thank you next piece. It using. This is your six disk. That is the sofa. Experience being reflected. I love this national anthem and its talking about all the colors of south africa and how you bring them together and I have in my lifetime to be able to say that I was locked help with mandela for three days and then to hear this song brings me back to the place so I feel very honoured
his eye? z, and no I'm thirty three similarly, africa, the south african national anthem sung by the t, require professor monti Williams negotiations in the final days before the belfast agreement signed were long and arduous. What oh, your memories of those final days? It was really tells us three days other than giving birth through my children that I have ever experienced, ways. It was a bit like that it was hard labor. We were up all night. The hero of the Process was more than he had been through chemotherapy ma's wearing a wig
if the guy wanted to do for the same reason, and so I knew I uncomfortable that it must be so she used to take her wig off and she would run around with an intravenous drip in her arm Barefoot negotiating like you, never saw anybody negotiating between the rims uppsala the phenomenal and should be well remembered for having done that. That was part of it. The tension One minute it was on the next minute was off. It started to snow, which was incredible on the ninth of April and let us be very rarely get a downfall of snow, and yet there was something symbolic about that too, because we want walked out dawn and it was the most incredible site Thousands upon thousands of journalists waiting for the word and I had said it- was going to end at midnight on day wholly Thursday night
didn't had spilled over, but I knew that this was the deadline, because I'd seen the flight tickets for the prime minister, tony blair and for senator Mitchell and others go further easter holidays, and it was probably symbolic that it was good friday and we said blitz hoped it'll, be many good fridays and finally, we were called to the table and I said to the women neither come we'll be on us so much. are. We don't cry because this is an incredible emotional time. Oh you're signing a peace agreement for your country many many decades of conflict and we all elder selves. Together till we looked around the table and a grown man cry and they threw up my arms and said. Okay, you can cry no. If you want, I can see the most that you feel now you never forget it it's time to your next piece of music. This is quite a track. Tell me why I have chosen it.
I was invited to do strictly come dancing for a fundraiser further with the acronym stands for wood. was against violence in part with, but they're nigh a very well known Angelo. in northern ireland that works with trauma, unkind selling for victims of the troubles and a very daunting task to be asked to do this with Alamo. bride. Who's very well known in northern ireland. We won that night So every time I hear this music, I start dancing with I'm in a sharper whether I'm in the kitchen. I just brings me back to the night that I had to. Put on my glad ranks and perform tangled
come on I'll break. It says you haven't lewis carroll sexy hallelujah get up there. I don't give a zeal. believe, matures wal mart runs. featuring bruno mars, uptown, funk, professor monica. What Williams you want your strictly performance with that track. So. A little bit of a shoulder show me today that moves still and I could see, had obtained funk I'll, never forget it. So, alongside your academic will you work part time as a member of the independent reporting commission, it's a body which is working towards ending paramilitary activity and tackling organised crime. How optimistic
Ah you about achieving those aims. Well with me, the recommendations we had to go and visit around the country and what community were telling us what politicians were telling us what some of the armed groups at that stage been telling us and we put together, report that was well received first time ever that all the polluted the parties agreed at the silver. Two years into our work with two more you, to go? We will not have perfect pace, but were I have to make our peace a whole lot better and what it is, and we need to say too, these guys, who I call course of controllers, get off our patch. Your time is over, go home and be fathers, which I keep telling me you want to be. Instead over the years and commanders and all these titles that they give themselves better talk masculinity and there too, but people don't want them, and it's great to hear
lee as a result of lear marquise death, but also in terms of the very light voices of saying just go away, disband the opt, but we don't want you here. We're people or to be more outspoken after leaving the case death than they would have might have been twenty years ago. That's important that the road spoken. What was more important is witnesses, there's a huge frustration that people keep saying the dogs in the street no he's doing this, but you can't have done in the street and courts. You actually need to have strong witnesses and I've learned from domestic violence and said violence and rape court. He needs national measures to protect those witnesses because organ these gangs can come after you. If they know you're gonna stand up in court and give evidence against them on their very powerful and quite intimidating, so we learned a lot and its good night that were put in measures and were witnesses
can be anonymize. They can give their evidence behind a screen. He can give their evidence through a video and therefore its much less scurry because There's quite anybody has ever gone into court knows what a terrifying fearing tat is so we ve had the clear the keys death a hundred forty witnesses come forward. No, they need to be supported. You ve got very busy life. Still, lots of travel lots of meetings how you be with all of the solitude that is waiting for you on a desert island, so looking forward to it. just I love the signs of the sea love taking the opportunity to get long walks by the sea, and I think I'll, be very content. It's time. For your final piece of me jake professor monti comment Williams. Why have you chosen this one? Well, either pierre was just the most powerful woman singer in terms
of that size of her little body and the strength of this voice and its in french and my speak french and in trying to learn it even better. So I memorizing these words, but that's actually the words themselves. No, I regret nothing and they think of- course we'll of regrets, and we would do things differently and in some real tragedies in my life, but I We don't want it to be about regrets, because assistance, earlier this year ordinary women who gets thrown into extraordinary times, and you do the best with what you ve got no nah
You know my money and Edith Pierre, no, you know regret area. Professor Monti, commit williams I'm about to cast you away to your desert island. I will send you there with the bible and the complete works. If shakespeare to read, you can also choose a book of your own to take with you. What would you like? I would love to take. Feel day anthology volumes four and five, which These are known as the woman some volumes, one two and three had been predominantly focusing on the ran the stories of irish male writers. and so the women came together to do an anthology and said we will help with this, and I think
I'll have long enough in this desert, even to make my way through that anthology and it's a beautiful anthology so I have a luxury items, something to soften the blow of being cast away. What you like I'd, love, a snorkel, absolutely love going down under the water and watching the fish pass me by and I might even have to find out where those that fish are assembled to survive and finally, which of these eight days, Would you rush to save from the waves if you had to? I think it'll have to be able to stay, no, us. I will be in that place listening to those waves and been cut right away to that with a beautiful music back to that beautiful island, so my experience will be as nice as EL pistachios, professor Monica
Williams. Thank you so much for letting us here, your dad's island discs supervisor, as we leave monica on her desert island wearing a snorkel to gaze at the fish there's just time for me to remind you that there's a whole range of fascinating castaways in our back catalogue, and you can hear all those and many more programs, via the desert island discs website and on BBC sands. Monica recalled the long days and nights of the good friday agreement negotiating process, the secretary of state for northern ireland, modem and ninety. Ninety nine more molin was cast away by sea lowly. The bottom line, my modem of negotiating in northern ireland, is, of course, that you have to treat everybody the same early.
matter who they are. You have to be even handed in your toughness and in your compromises. How difficult is that, when you're doing business with a murderer, it's not easy, but I made the decision very early on in relation to northern ireland. The unless you talk to people, look about the violence. Its is sound the simplified, but in the end, unless you bring people into the process and talk to them, you're not going to make progress and unless you treat them in a way with a certain degree of your part of this process and will own again to get somewhere. If people stop the violence and decide to take another
excuses any over simplification of any kind of any accusations of that company? Just wonder as a human being, you know when you ve met us as oversee you ve done that the victims, the wives them loves the hardest time. That's the hardest thing. When you talk to people who, whose hurt and pain will never leave them and they will carry with them, also their life and you talk to them the absolute anger and discussed at what I do is sometimes very difficult to cope with, but sometimes the most forgiving others that have suffered most and thus I to me something like I despise you for what you doing, but in the end, if you stop another family having to go through what we ve gone through, then keep going,
And I get that quite often, people didn't like it counts, stomach it, but if it means we're getting somewhere, then do it you get. You will actually help you if you take a lot of notice of what people say, but also what people right I mean again reading about you, you mention alone. The latest you get whether it's about northern and all about alcoholism, more about cancer. You obviously take on board what people are saying to us today. Will you have too? Because if you don't owe me one of the aspects of the job and of security, is you may people with any get twenty seconds? So I don't have much time to sit and talk, but I think there is a degree of honesty letters which
keep your normal things. I, when you say people were a lot of women right, have lost the hair and even sometimes when I'm feeling set up to get a letter from somebody says I could go and if you can- and you say well, I've clapping during Today'S- it now could keep going gazette, keeping go the right honourable mp mobile and it's really fascinating programme. Some do have innocent next time on a desert, island discs you'll be able to hear the musician and composer knitting sony join me. I'm saga, monday, heist of don't tell me the school, be polka that uses sport to explore life's bigger questions covering topics, light resilience, tribalism and fear with people like this. You keep during my fear and me I always want to bring him back to. Are you actually endanger? That's alex huddled star of the oscar winning film free solo, in which he climbed a three thousand foot. She cliff without rights.
So I mean a lot of those in our social anxiety things and soon they have had a lot of issues with talking to attract people mob. Like oh no like I could never do that, and it certainly feels like you're gonna die, but at least we are not going to die and that's all practice to have listened too tight. Tell me this school full of useful everyday tips from incredible people on BBC sounds
Transcript generated on 2022-06-09.