Interning at the Northern Ireland Bureau

Ben Mallon on his placement at the NIB

This week saw our internships begin. I’m based at the Northern Ireland Bureau which is a branch of the Northern Ireland Assembly with the main focus being to promote tourism, trade and investment from the United States back to the Province.  The placement is ideal for me as it gives me a ‘hands-on’ insight into the workings of the Northern Ireland Civil Service in what they do daily to ensure that Northern Ireland is voiced at all levels of the US administration and US civil society.

The highlight of the week by far was the Northern Ireland Bureau Luncheon which saw the Bureau host an event to welcome the Washington Ireland Program, Class of 2012 over to the United States. The topic of conversation at the Luncheon was on the importance of a ‘Shared Future’ in Northern Ireland and the means by which we can keep Northern Ireland moving forward. It was apparent throughout the event that there are numerous areas in which a shared future must take hold, with the need of educational reform being the greatest concern from those present.

It goes without saying that there is overwhelming support for a shared future from all communities in Northern Ireland, free from violence and fear, and replaced with cohesion, peace in a more integrated society. The crucial question asked by decision makers, community leaders and young people is how to get there. However, one question is clear, generations have come before us, generations have come after us but it is up to our generation to make that positive and lasting change.