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The Northern Ireland We Have--the Challenges

October 9, 2018

L to R: Sir John Elvidge, Theresa Donaldson, Quintin Oliver, Rolf Alter. CREDIT: Amanda Ghanooni.

This is part of the International Seminar on Wellbeing in Northern Ireland, convened by Carnegie Council and the Carnegie UK Trust.

JOHN ELVIDGE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Elvidge. I have the pleasure of being the chair of Carnegie UK Trust. We are enormously grateful to everybody for their participation in this event.

Our objective now is to keep the spirit of conversation and dialogue going in the room. We're going to try to provide a little bit of stimulus to that next phase of our conversation by offering you a variety of perspectives on where we are now in Northern Ireland. For some of us it's where we are, and I guess for others of us, to be honest, it's where you are, because the panel we have assembled here is a combination of perspectives rooted in Northern Ireland and perspectives from a slight distance from Northern Ireland.

We have Dr. Theresa Donaldson, the former chief executive of Lisburn City and Castlereagh District Council, and Quintin Oliver, the director of Stratagem International, both deeply rooted in Northern Ireland but citizens of the world; and Rolf Alter, who until about this time last year was the director of the public governance and territorial development directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which was responsible for the major review of governance in Northern Ireland that took place relatively recently. Rolf had a key role in directing that work, but he also has a broad perspective, on which we've been lucky enough in the UK Trust to engage with him, on the way in which various countries around the world have engaged with the same kind of journey about using concepts of wellbeing to unravel some of the difficult challenges that face governance.

I'll say a little bit more about my own perspectives later, but we'll just start with three brief introductory statements, and Theresa is going to speak first.

THERESA DONALDSON: I'm afraid mine is not so brief because I've prepared a paper which hopefully will bring some of the things that we're all here to discuss together and change the way the conversation has gone slightly.

I'm truly delighted, first of all, to have been invited, and I'm extremely grateful to Carnegie for the invitation to participate.

I have been part of the Roundtable since 2013, and greatly privileged to be so. Anybody who has had a chance, maybe being forward enough, to read my CV, you'll see that my professional background is somewhat varied and I've moved between different parts of the public sector before arriving in local government as chief executive.

Although while working in health and social care and legal services there was ministerial control of departments, mainly during my tenure from Direct-Rule ministers I really didn't come face to face with Northern Ireland politicians until I entered local government. As chief executive in Craigavon Council—and I know about Portadown because Craigavon embraces Portadown, Lurgan, and Craigavon—I encountered politics that were publicly polar opposites of each other in terms of really any issue raised.

But behind the scenes there was cooperation across party divides, and what this meant for me as chief executive was that most of the substantive work on issues was done below the radar with party groupings or with party group leaders. Bearing in mind the size of Northern Ireland, the fact that central government departments discharge many responsibilities that would be the business of local government in other jurisdictions—we are very small, 1.7 million people, so things like housing, regeneration, and social care are discharged from the center, and this splits issues between communities on the ground that should be joined up.

It's clear that fragmentation of services has led to inefficiencies and increased costs. We'll hear about that, no doubt, when Neil is talking from an economist's perspective. We haven't been able to realize the synergies that are very important for any community. This was an issue that was well-discussed and thought through by the Roundtable and thought to have been greatly assisted in other jurisdictions by community planning, and that's the link with the Wellbeing agenda and local government.

My personal approach nationally, regionally, and locally, because I've worked at all those levels in the public and voluntary sectors, has shaped my worldview, and that is a drive to reduce silo working and to be inclusive and uniting. This default position has served me well when building teams across sectoral divides and building consensus in divided groupings when I've been chair, and that means I appreciate initiatives that contribute to this position.

Added to this personally, my family—my husband's here—is all-embracing in the Northern Ireland context with religious and educational experiences across the divides. So working with Carnegie with a strategic objective to make cross-sectoral working across governments, civil society, and business normal and valued has therefore been a joy.

I was invited to join the Roundtable, as I've said, in 2013. At that time, local government had been promised reform and was recognized as being in need of fundamental change for many years, but political and practical impediments seemed to arise at the last minute to prevent the much-needed overhaul. So, while services and local government in Northern Ireland were not complex, considering health and social care had gone through reform a number of years earlier, reducing the number of councils with very limited powers, the 26 councils with limited powers, to 11 with enhanced powers raised political issues that were complex, and we've heard some of that already today.

So questions, such as what assets would transfer from Nationalist to Unionist areas and vice versa, and what would the political dominance in the new super-councils look like were hotly debated.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and the St. Andrews in 2006 confirmed the onset of peace and the ending of the war and brought a fully operating Northern Ireland Executive. This meant there can now be serious attempts to address the fragmentation of services for a population of 1.7 million with changes to health, education, legal services, and government departments.

As I've said, in 2013 I was delighted to be invited to join the Roundtable to consider the promotion and development of the concept of wellbeing in Northern Ireland. At the same time, the OECD was undertaking a public governance review, and the OECD recognized that Northern Ireland faces specific economic, social, and political challenges that influence government's ability to design and deliver public services that can effectively and efficiently meet citizens' needs.

Compared to what we see now, that was a good time for government in Northern Ireland, with an Executive that was bringing forward important reforms. The Department for Justice had been established in 2010, and after a decade when the devolution of policing and justice had been under discussion, Justice was devolved to the control of the Assembly. And I'm pleased to say that local government reform began to move forward with intent from 2013 onwards. Reform proceeded with the Local Government Reform Act of 2014 and a slew of other legislation passed through the Assembly.

As my job in Craigavon Borough Council as chief executive disappeared, I was fortunate to be appointed as chief executive for Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council on the 1st of April, 2015. After a period in charter reform, the reduction in councils from 26 to 11 materialized and additional powers were bestowed on councils, including increased economic development powers. In stark contrast to 1973, when the director from the Westminster government introduced planning powers, these were now restored to councils. We got things like off-street car parking, which is a bit odd, but, anyway, we also got a general power of competence that was introduced, and community-planning powers were given to councils.

Having the opportunity to develop community planning as a core initiative, a developing organization, and bringing in-house the thinking that was developing within the Roundtable was very exciting for me. By ensuring colleagues in other councils were informed about the work of the Roundtable, I could, as a member of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, influence them as they brought forward their community plans.

It was hugely rewarding to be a participant when the Programme for Government was being developed and to influence the outcomes-based approach heavily influenced by the Scottish model.

The work that took place within the Roundtable very significantly influenced my approach to community planning. A brief perusal of the succinct publication from the Roundtable, "Toward a Wellbeing Framework," conveys the collective expertise and wisdom of the group. The language in the report is simple and the objectives are clear—such things as building the conditions for wellbeing; deepening the democratic engagement; developing an innovative, fair, and sustainable economy; living long and healthy lives; and so on.

The outcomes-based draft Programme for Government reflected much of the thinking and language of this report, the establishing of new ways of working to support wellbeing, aligning of tiers of government. As the report quoted, "People in Northern Ireland are trying to shed a skin and find a face, mindset, and disposition." The report and work of the Roundtable certainly helped public services to achieve this.

At Lisburn and Castlereagh I ensured the development of the community plan was led from my office. This enabled me as chief executive to support the development of the plan and give it the strategic level of importance demanded.

The community-planning partnership was chaired by an elected member, Alderman William Leathem, who is here and has championed community planning in the council from the very get-go. Also, I have to mention Catharine McWhirter as our community-planning officer.

Political neutrality for the process was assured when it was agreed by council that political representatives on the partnership would be cross-party and the extensive consultations would take place in each district electoral area with members of the public and other agencies. We wrote up the outcome of the consultations, thus developing the plan from the bottom up. Although there were also extensive consultations with other public services and the business community and our own staff, we engaged assistance from some of the agencies, such as Stratagem, and that ensured that the work of the Roundtable was embedded in our approach to the plan.

We also ensured alignment to the Programme for Government. The action plan to take forward the aspirations in the community plan has now been launched. The five themes of our plan are: children and young people; the economy; health and wellbeing; where we live in our community; and each theme has five associated actions with a lead authority.

How has local government fared as a whole? Interestingly, there has been a review now of all of the community plans across Northern Ireland, and Dr. Johann Gallagher from the University of Ulster conducted an examination of the plans. As she commented, there has now been in Northern Ireland a greater emphasis on partnership between central and local government, the private sector, voluntary, and community sectors to tackle the major challenges.

Councils have been advised to align the community plans with the Programme for Government. It was also noted by Dr. Gallagher that with the publication of the plans there was a great opportunity to look at collective aspirations regionally and locally.

What did she find? Her analysis showed that all plans published were done so within the two years that we had been given, and the plan timeframe is 10 to 18 years for most of the plans and some between 13 to 15 years. Most were quite similar in structure and adopted elements of the outcomes-based approach.

What she found was the depth and breadth of engagement with local people was found to be striking. This was achieved through, for example, workshops, competitions, online surveys, social media activity, and focus groups. Engagements were used by some to manage expectations because that was important. There was no resource from central government to bring forward community planning. This was all done within the resources within councils.

Others adopted a more ambitious approach, and the research found a reasonably strong link with the Programme for Government outcomes. In the plans examined there was a focus on mental health, environmental issues, and infrastructure. Key observations from Dr. Gallagher were that there had been a huge level of public engagement but perhaps not enough emphasis on audit and targets.

Again, I think that's part of the journey that we're all on. We know from the Scottish experience that the Scotland forms side of the community planning has been hugely important, and again we'll hear more, I'm sure, from other speakers about that. But what we have found is that collaboration has begun and must continue and strengthen, with partners understanding their roles and expectations around delivery.

Dr. Gallagher suggested there should be a focus on performance accountability going forward to reassess actions and resources available and their ability to turn the curve. While these are important suggestions, more importantly for me the culture of community planning in Northern Ireland had now been established, informed by the Wellbeing agenda as progressed by Carnegie UK, and that's an achievement to be acknowledged.

In conclusion, in 2013 Carnegie UK brought many disparate views together to consider how we could work together to advance wellbeing in Northern Ireland. The sharing of learning between jurisdictions of the United Kingdom and Ireland, a strategic objective for Carnegie, made so much sense and greatly assisted Northern Ireland going through far-reaching reform as a post-conflict society.

I was delighted to participate in the Roundtable and bring forward the community-planning partnership in Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council informed by the thinking of the Roundtable. I was delighted, as with the other 10 councils, that I published the plan on time.

While community plans and action plans have been published, the process of getting to where we are now has been far from easy. There have been resisters to change, and certainly the sharing of and pooling of resources between agencies has not happened perhaps in the way we would all like.

With the collapse of the Assembly and the weakening of the link between the Programme for Government and community planning, it has become more difficult to achieve the joint-level services as was envisioned. However, having said that, the great progress that we've made has to be acknowledged.

Thank you.

QUINTIN OLIVER: I'm in a sort of Carnegie Nirvana here. As some of you know, I work out of a Carnegie library in Belfast, Donegall Road, and last year my partner and I bought a Carnegie library in North Belfast that we are restoring and giving back to the community.

I was a member of the Roundtable with Theresa and many of the rest of you, and now I'm in the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and meeting many of the Carnegie family of foundations and trusts who contribute so much from that enigmatic Andrew Carnegie and his journey from the weaver's cottage in Dunfermline to the States and back.

I've just come from a place with just under 2 million people with a dispute about language rights and language acts, with a territorial claim of one part to another part, and a recent referendum on the use of the word "Northern" in their title. That was the former Yugoslavic republic of Macedonia, called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Still, if you want to catch a flight to it, you have to do the drop-down to get FYROM, which they hate has a name. They had unconstitutionally changed it to Macedonia, but the Greek government next door said: "You cannot use the term Macedonia because that's ours. We own it because we own Alexander the Great and we own the province of Macedonia, and you people to our north cannot call it a country."

So we argued and argued. I was there for three months helping on the referendum, and we argued about what to call it. I'm afraid I gave away one of our state secrets, which Máirtín and May will love. I said: "When you're in trouble about what you describe, you just say ‘here, we are here,' without naming the place that you are because that is contentious."

I say that because that three months was salutary about our little other corner of the world, the northern part of Northern Ireland, where we also have 2 million people, where we also argue over language rights and language acts and how we can respect and build on that with equality, where we have settled the territorial claim by referendum of the people in 1998, and where we are making extraordinary progress in world-leading terms, in terms of from conflict to peace and prosperity.

I think we've heard that described a number of times by the contributors here, and that needs to be banked, because in the Western Balkans, where Macedonia is, you see—that's why we use the term in the English language "balkanized"— smaller and smaller little pockets of nonviable jurisdictions, and how do you reverse that while respecting people's identity and their culture and their language and build something better? I think we're closer to that.

Now, I often use that old song, "reasons to be cheerful, reasons to be fearful," and we've covered some of the reasons to be fearful.

We have a gridlock. Gridlock was built into the Good Friday Agreement in order to provide a mutual veto. While we've been out of government for 21 months now, remember there was an earlier period when the Executive didn't meet for nine months because one party wouldn't sign the agenda. That was the level of the mutual agreement, the mutual veto, so if one side didn't like the agenda, they could stop the process of government.

Now, 20 years ago that was probably necessary as a protection for those who felt concerned and apprehensive about power-sharing with an opponent that they had not built a trust with. That ugly scaffolding—Mark Durkan called it the "ugly scaffolding"—of the Agreement, which is so difficult to take down because we didn't have many sunset clauses where elements of it would lapse after 10 or 15 years or be subject to review, and that means that that institutional gridlock which we now have is all the more difficult to undo.

Reconciliation? We have left that agenda way behind. We argue about the legacy of the past and we cannot even find a narrative to describe it. That dogs us just as the mental health challenges, suicide—more people have taken their own lives than in the Troubles, more people have taken their own lives since 1998 than in the conflict of the previous 30 years, an extraordinary legacy of pain and hurt and the taking of life. We cannot deal with those things until we have the political settlement that allows us to work together to reach those people and those neglected and marginalized communities who have had no peace dividend.

In terms of the political division—and we've had it today in Máirtín's excellent contribution and Peter, unfortunately on video, so we couldn't have them in the same room and couldn't have those discussions—it reminds me of the children's story of the two donkeys and the pile of grass, where if they go in different directions neither gets the grass, but if they go in the same direction they can get one heap of grass and then turn and move to the other. So how do we get that alignment so that we can both eat grass and make that progress?

Civil society is an extraordinary part. Around the world civil society has created revolutions, it has toppled dictatorships, it has changed societies. But I worry that our civil society at home is severely weakened.

The business sector, while doing well in some respects, is no longer a voice in some of the debates where it could have a strong contribution. So much of our economy is branch line with headquarters outside, and therefore with less decision-making.

While I thought it was really interesting the point that Máirtín made about the big corporations backing LGBTQ rights, because for them, in terms of a global economy, they want happy workers and happy communities and happy customers, and that means that recognizing rights and diversity is a virtue for them. And yet, so many of our businesses are even smaller than the average—90 percent of most economies are small businesses—in our case it is 95 percent with 10 or fewer workers, so it's a really small-business economy.

The trade unions have been hollowed out because of the large industrial plants and the changes in how trade unions organize. Voluntary organizations have been stripped in terms of funding and access and in some cases their ability to advocate. It's really important that they do that and really important that the big foundations like Carnegie resource and convene in the way that you do so powerfully.

Of course, we have the "Big B," Brexit about which we know so little and which is going to be cataclysmic whatever happens. Whatever happens, it will have cataclysmic consequences because of the change processes that we'll have to go through however it is done.

On the other hand, we do have an extraordinary peace. I worked with many of you in this room on the "Yes" campaign in the 1998 referendum, and I was looking at Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles again, that tremendous tribute to those who have lost their lives. There were nine voters assassinated in the early months of 1998 before the Agreement and after the Agreement, before the referendum took place, and that was even before the Omagh bomb later that year. Nine voters were assassinated, and the atmosphere that that created in terms of one's ability to speak, to talk, to relate, to build things was so difficult.

It was Bill Clinton who, I think, was at his best a couple of months ago with Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, all with clay feet since their great moments 20 years ago. They gathered in April of this year, and it was Bill Clinton who described the Good Friday Agreement as an "act of genius." And so it was, because it was one of those peaceful transitions through the work of politicians, 10 political parties elected to the process, external support through Senator Mitchell, and the British and Irish governments and the European Union, in a tremendous collective effort then endorsed by the people in referendum. That created a baseline which we lose at our peril.

We have almost sorted policing; there are still some issues to be completed on policing to make sure of universal acceptance. The parading issue has managed almost out of existence. Workplace equality, the Equality Commission say that the data reflects the labor market in terms of Catholic/Protestant access to the labor market in their areas. That baseline is really positive for building a future.

As Theresa amply elucidated, the local councils are working. Whilst Stormont is gridlocked, the political parties that William and his colleagues and others are meeting, making decisions, and they are the same parties as are gridlocked at Stormont, and they're showing us how it can be done at local level with the support of officers like Theresa and colleagues in the room who are doing amazing things. I think you should be blowing your trumpet a little more loudly about that success of democratic politics still working.

It reminds me of the period after the first ceasefires in 1994, when the European Union stepped in with its peace program, and where Jacques Delors farsightedly said that this money needs to go to the bottom, it needs to be bottom-up, it needs to involve community-based organizations in partnership with councils and local politicians, with businesses, with trade unions, with the local branches of statutory bodies. That was innovative, different, and transformational, and I'm delighted that it has now come through as community planning with the same values of elected members locally with the key players and the champions of community interests at the table and not outside with placards complaining that they're being left out and neglected again.

We have an economic platform that is hugely promising in certain areas. We've heard about the fantastic tourism boom, the creative industries, the film industry—all those people who have been through subsidized theater, and that's why arts will always need to be subsidized—but those people who are carpenters and set designers and lighting designers in the theaters of Northern Ireland are now stepping up into the film industry and providing that infrastructure that will be used again and again both creatively and economically and socially.

But what do we do now? That's where the concept of wellbeing, I think, is so powerful because, again to go back to Macedonia for a moment, for them I was saying, "Well, what do you want to change your name for?"

They said, "We have to change the name because Greece is vetoing our membership of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). So what is the prize? The prize is membership in the European Union and NATO."

I was saying: "That's a process. Those are faraway institutions. You're not going to get your voters to discuss that over breakfast if you want them to be motivated to come out and vote for it."

So what is behind the European Union and NATO? Of course, it's the wellbeing of your citizens, who can then have the right to travel, who can take part in Erasmus, who can get access to a 500 million customer market, who can have standards of environmental protection and worker protection in the labor market. That's where the wellbeing concept, I think, unites all politicians. I tested it in Macedonia, and it went down well. So, Martyn, if you want another project, there is hunger for it there.

It moves away from that old trope that it's about economic prosperity, jobs, and growth, which wasn't terribly motivational, other than for those who were going to directly benefit; and, again, it wasn't very transformational in terms of what that meant for people participating in that, other than those who were business owners or might get a slightly higher paid job.

That's where the drop-downs that Theresa described are so important in terms of governance, in terms of democracy, in terms of public participation. No peace process works without massive public participation. When the elites get together to cut a deal, it fails, and now we have such evidence around the world that the public engagement and involvement—and that's where mature politicians get it, and that's the same for wellbeing.

This Wellbeing Program and the fantastic work—and I think the civil service deserves credit—in difficult times, without political leadership and political sign-off, for having progressed the models and the programs and the action plans and the delivery plans in order to keep it going, and hopefully to be able then to implement it when it comes, because the outcomes that are the description of the wellbeing can be measured, can be tracked, and can create a coalition of interests to help work and strive toward it. That's what I think gives us both a political agenda that we have to give to our politicians to provide that settlement, but also a policy agenda for those of us working at different levels to mobilize around and to help achieve that change.

If our job outside of the political world is anything, it's both to understand what's happening but then to get in and change it for the better. Join us in that project.

Thank you.

ROLF ALTER: Thank you very much for having still the patience to listen to me.

I have to say that when you talk today about public governance, a subject that I like very much, I think there are just two questions that one has to address. The first one is, "where do you want to go?" The second is simply to say, "and how do we get there?"

It's pretty basic, and it hasn't really changed a lot. It's just that we are aware of it these days, that it makes a lot of difference if we have an idea of where we want to go, rather than saying "growth of gross domestic product (GDP)." That was a very, very nice answer at the time when people were just trying to survive. Then it makes a lot of sense. But once you are beyond that, there are a few other dimensions.

Fortunately, the discussion took on wellbeing, even if it wasn't easy to launch it because it sounded so ominous. When you are in an organization where I was, in the OECD, everything is an issue of "do we have data or not?" It meant that the whole statistical world started to look for data to show whether we would be going in the right direction, that we would know what it was that we wanted, and that we could actually measure whether we got closer to the subject matter. It's very important.

Then, of course, the issue was then: Who is going to do it? So we went looking at actors: Who would actually engage? Who would be responsible for bringing us there?

All these subjects were part of this review that you mentioned, Theresa, when someone at the time said, "Since you are doing so much on other countries, why don't you stop by here in Belfast and look at us?"

What we found was a pretty surprising subject of research for us. Many people think the OECD is about research. I do think it's a little different, but that's a different type of discussion.

What we found was that there was a program for government which looked pretty modern, pretty advanced, I would say pretty nice, to many other places that I know in the world. It was exactly the time when we were talking about a fantastic new beginning for the country. We looked at strategic vision, we looked at engagement, and we looked at delivery of public services. It turned out to be—it's not by chance that we chose these subjects—what the government wanted to do. There was already a lot of that in the making.

When you then compare it—and that's what we do—to experiences elsewhere, we felt that this was something that we would take from Belfast. Once it all went well, we would take it to other places, and we would say, "Here is a small part of the world, 2 million people, a complicated situation, but they actually managed to do very well." It's a nice story if you want to talk about this, and I think, Máirtín, it is a story for politicians.

But it is also a story about people who get engaged. By that I don't mean process, I don't mean institutions; I mean the people.

This morning when we were watching this impressive presentation, I thought, What is it that people say there? When the gentleman went into the streets of Belfast and said, "What do you want?" I think they wanted what we all want,actually. We want wellbeing, and we want to perhaps describe it differently, but that is exactly what we want.

So it's not so complicated. But maybe one thing that I always find increasingly difficult is that people don't listen quite exactly to what people say. This morning—and I will just give you this example—it just struck me because it fits so well—this morning Lawrence Summers, a very well-known economist in this world, writes in the Financial Times about his trip through America—and he is really an excellent economist; there is no doubt about it. What does he say? Traveling through America for two weeks, his country, he discovers how different life is, how beautiful the country is, how different the ideas are of what people in different parts of the country would like to do, like to live, like to have. And he said, "Well, maybe we economists haven't quite seen and listened to what it was that people are looking for.'

This comes from someone who is definitely a great economist. Being myself an economist, I'd like to think of him of as a certain sure value.

But maybe that's an indication of what is also sometimes missing, and increasingly missing: we're not looking enough to what people actually want. This is not an issue of political partisanship. It's delivering something that needs government—here you will hear me saying that loud and clear—it needs government, but it is something that you can introduce if you are a good political leader.

Two things, though, that I would like to add. Carnegie has this fantastic thing it says: "Changing Minds and Changing Lives." It's a beautiful way to think about what has to be done: changing minds. People like myself can invent fantastic governance systems. I have a lot of things to offer—I will spare you all of that—beautiful things, but it will only work if there is the right mindset. It will not work as a technique. It will work with the people who do it.

What would it be? I think still government is something which is a concept of "government by, of, and for people." That's what it is, and I do think that applies in Northern Ireland as in many other places in the world.

Thank you very much.

JOHN ELVIDGE: Okay. So, three perspectives there.

I'd like to invite you to think about bringing that back to the argument that Máirtín advanced, that a country can cope with a hiatus in government if the other elements of the country continue to function, if local government continues to function healthily, if civic society functions healthily, and official institutions that don't act under the day-to-day direction of ministers, and, as Rolf was arguing, if there's a genuine engagement of people in the conversation.

I would just like to reinforce a point that Rolf made. Like Rolf, I spend a certain amount of time in a variety of countries having a similar conversation about how governments can reconnect with citizens' own views of what they want for the future of their societies. I do that on the back of Scotland's experience of trying to travel that journey. In every conversation I have had in various countries, including the one that Rolf and I were having in Slovenia only a year ago, that conversation stops when you get to the point of saying: "Let's do something. Let's change something." 

It's only in Northern Ireland in 2017 that the conversation went past that point and said: "Let's actually translate this thinking into action. Let's create a wellbeing framework. Let's create a Programme for Government that's based on that wellbeing framework.'

I think we're all in our various ways saying that if Máirtín is right that a society can function on the basis of what all the other bits are doing, then Northern Ireland has a number of powerful functioning cards here.

That's our transition point, I think, for the next panel, which is going to think about whether Northern Ireland can make that journey from those foundations.

Thank you very much for your attention. We will hand over to the next panel.

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