Remembering Brendan Duddy: the Secret Peacemaker

Remembering Brendan Duddy: the Secret Peacemaker

An intimate and personal conversation with Brendan’s family, both witnesses to and participants in his back stage peace making work in Northern Ireland. They saw at first hand how his relationship with the Tavistock Institute nurtured him in this work and are pleased to have this opportunity to remember and celebrate their father with colleagues and current day practitioners.

Brendan Duddy was one of those rare people who without academic or professional training in the field had an intuitive understanding, force of character and the deepest faith to heal rifts that if left unattended would grow into catastrophe. Remembering Brendan is to honour the person who without fanfare engaged all the parties concerned with ending the conflict in Northern Ireland, believing it should be for them to get the credit for it for they were the actors in the drama; he merely the midwife. At this event we remembered the powerful role of Brendan Duddy who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.

The conversation was facilitated by Maeve Murphy an acclaimed filmmaker, who has made a number of films based on real events in Northern Ireland.

Brendan Duddy epitomised good negotiation – holding faithfully to the ‘big picture’ (peace), refusing to side with any party in the conflict, and slowly, skilfully winning the confidence of the players in it. To be in that dangerous go-between position daily for 20 years takes a huge toll on the emotions of the individual.  Brendan found sustenance and support through his close personal relationship with Gordon Lawrence of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations who introduced Brendan to group relations and the famous Tavistock Leicester conference.  I was a member of the 1978 and 1986 Leicester conferences at which Brendan served as a staff consultant – a ‘negotiator’ between our group’s conscious wishes and its unconscious defences against those wishes that impeded our work. Brendan was superb in his role insisting that no matter who the ‘other’ people are, no matter what they’ve done, historically and at the present time, just keep talking.

Extract from Mannie Sher’s unpublished obituary.


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Brendan, Patricia and Shauna Duddy worked closely with their father and continue to run the Duddy business which is part hospitality, part retail, part property development and is based in Northern Ireland.Maeve Murphy is an award winning film maker or writer and director. She was born in N.Ireland. Her first short Amazing Grace, starring Aidan Gillan premiered at the London Film Festival, before showing at the Edinburgh and Galway Film Festival . Salvage starring Orla Brady, also a short, premiered at the Cork Film Festival and was released by the BFI. She has made three feature films – Silent Grace, Beyond the Fire and Taking Stock.  www.maevemurphy.net
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