25th March: 5.00pm

Democracy Drinks NI & Democracy Network launch.
The launch of an exciting new local network by Involve UK.

Across the globe, freedom-loving citizens meet up at informal networking events known as #DemocracyDrinks. The events attract a lively mixture of people from NGOs, international institutions, think tanks, national governments and representations, academia, public affairs consultancies, social businesses and active citizens.

#DemocracyDrinks Belfast will be hosted by the new Democracy Network. This event is part of this year’s Imagine Festival of Ideas, and we’ll be launching the Network in Northern Ireland with an informal evening of food, drink and five minute “lightning talks” from individuals across a broad spectrum of public life, who are helping to shape our democracy and community voice in many inspiring ways. We hope this event will kickstart a wider conversation around improving and diversifying voice and participation in Northern Irish politics and decision making, bring people together to help inspire, encourage and create deeper connections between those passionate about democracy, voice, power and inclusion.

Lightning Speeches from:

Jessie Joe Jacobs, Coordinator of the Democracy Network – a network to connect organisations seeking to renew UK democracy and address issues of civic power, voice and influence. She is former Sunday Times social entrepreneur of the year, former director of the Northern Inclusion Consortium and founder of the award winning charity, A Way Out. She also ran as Labour’s Mayoral candidate in the 2021 Tees Valley Mayoral election in North East England.

Elaine Crory – Good Relations Co-Ordinator at WRDA, she also works on the Raise Your Voice project on sexual harassment. She is an activist with a number of feminist organisations and teaches classes on history and politics at Conway Education Centre, Stranmillis College and Queens University Open Learning. She is currently a Specialist Advisor on VAWG to the Women & Equalities Committee at Westminster.

Peter Emerson – Founder of the de Borda Institute, which promotes this consensus voting in decision-making, world-wide, most recently in Tehran and Beijing.The child of an Irish Protestant dad and an English Catholic mum, Peter came to Belfast (from Africa) in 1975. Ten years later, one week after Ian Paisley shouted, “Ulster says No!” he and five colleagues stood at the same venue, in silence, with a banner, “We have got to say ‘yes’ to something.” Six months later, he helped the New Ireland Group host a public meeting of over 200 people, (ranging from Sinn Féin to the UDA): they debated, and then voted, in preferences, always ‘yes’ to something… and no-one voted ‘no’. Shortly afterwards, he and others set up the de Borda Institute.

Naomi Green of the Belfast Islamic Centre, is from a conservative Evangelical Christian background and converted to Islam in 2006. She volunteered with the Belfast Islamic Centre and became a member of the Executive Committee before joining the staff in 2016. She is currently working to improve community relations and political representation for the Muslim community.

Rebekah McCabe, Involve UK – Rebekah leads on Involve’s work in Northern Ireland. Her focus is on developing the awareness, understanding, and use of participatory and deliberative tools across government and civil society. Her inaugural project was to develop the first Citizens’ Assembly for Northern Ireland – a democratic innovation designed to put the views of Northern Ireland’s citizens into the heart of decision making on the reform of social care for older people, which ran in October/ November 2018. Prior to joining Involve, Rebekah worked for 6 years in the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland, developing programmes and projects with a focus on community participation, education, and research.

Gemma McCaughley, Innovation and Community Voice Programme officer at Community Foundation Northern Ireland. Before working for CFNI Gemma worked for Colin Neighbourhood Partnership (CNP), an award-winning community group based in the Colin area of West Belfast. The Partnership consists of local people & organisations, elected & community representatives, and government bodies.

Drinks and a light buffet will be provided.

Learn more: Involve UK


Sponsored by the QUB Democracy Unit.

date & time

date & time

Friday 25th March
Duration: 1.5 hours



Crescent Arts Centre, University Road.



Free admission

book tickets

Tickets for this event can be booked below, or on the event’s Eventbrite page.

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