How can a more participatory and deliberative approach to politics help to restore, strengthen, and sustain devolved government in Northern Ireland?


2:00PM – 6:00PM

Cube Theatre, Crescent Arts Centre, University Road, Belfast


Democratic institutions in Northern Ireland have been stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of restoration and collapse for the last 25 years. As a result, much needed policy reforms are long overdue and NI has failed to keep pace with the extraordinary challenges facing our healthcare, education, energy, and housing systems as well as the rapidly escalating climate crisis.

Almost half of people across all communities in NI believe that our power sharing agreements need some change, but what should that change be? Could giving citizens a greater role in politics through deliberative mechanisms such as citizens assemblies help to strengthen government in Northern Ireland? Where can we look for lessons on making government more effective and what needs to happen to make it a reality in NI? And how could deliberative mechanisms contribute to the debate about a potential referendum on the choice between Northern Ireland remaining in the UK or reunifying with the rest of Ireland?

Hosted by the Imagine! Belfast Festival, the Democracy Network and Involve, join us for a lively afternoon of conversations about citizen-led democracy in Northern Ireland as we celebrate the UN International Day of Democracy.


Overview of event:

Keynote introduction: Professor John Garry, Queen’s University Belfast

Café conversation: how can citizens play a greater role in politics in NI?

Panel discussion: we bring together perspectives from inside the civil service, local government, and civil society to discuss the potential for improving citizen participation, as well as some of the risks and challenges.

Democracy Drinks reception

This is a free event – registration closes 11 September 2023.



The United Nations International Day of Democracy is celebrated every year on 15 September in order to promote and uphold democratic principles and values worldwide. The day was first celebrated in 2008 and provides an opportunity for governments, civil society organisations, and individuals to promote and advance democracy, and to raise public awareness about the importance of democratic values such as respect for human rights, freedom of expression, and the rule of law, for example.

An event presented by Imagine! Belfast Festival, the Democracy Network and Involve


We’ll be in touch.