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Imagine! Festival of Ideas and Politics

Monday, March 12, 2018 - 09:00 to Sunday, March 18, 2018 - 00:00

Books that bend bars

What were the books that opened minds, bridged divides or inspired new possibilities amongst Loyalist and Republican political prisoners?

Tuesday 13 March, 19.00 - 20.30

Crumlin Road Gaol, 53-55 Crumlin Rd, Belfast BT14 6ST

Register here

This panel event draws on a unique Open University Oral History Archive researching the educational life-journeys of former political prisoners, Open University staff and prison education staff in Northern Ireland’s prisons from 1972-2000. Come and listen to our panel, comprised of Open University staff and ex-political prisoners, discuss the books that inspired change.

John D’Arcy: National Director, The Open University

Panel members include:
Billy Hutchinson: an Open University graduate and Loyalist ex-prisoner who studied with The Open University while in the Compounds in the Maze Long Kesh prison. Billy is currently leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and a Belfast City Councillor.

Jennifer McCann: an Open University graduate and former Republican prisoner who studied with The Open University during her time in Armagh and Maghaberry prisons. Jennifer was MLA for West Belfast until 2016 and is currently working for Relatives for Justice.

Séanna Walsh: an Open University graduate and former Republican prisoner who studied with The Open University during his time in the H-Blocks in Maze Long Kesh prison. Seanna is currently a Belfast City Councillor, political activist and Legacy and Outreach worker for Coiste na n-Iarchimí.

Gabi Kent: Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at The Open University. Gabi is a member of The Open University in Ireland Oral History project team and will be leading the discussion around the panel’s chosen texts.

A separate tour of Crumlin Road Gaol will be taking place at 8.45pm. Please note that this is not part of this event but if you would like the opportunity to join the tour, you must make payment to Crumlin Road Gaol on arrival, before the event takes place. Booking is based on a first-come-first-served basis. For more information please contact  

This event is now sold out. Please email to be added to a reserve list. 


 Brexit: one year to go - a   four nations countdown

 Wednesday 14th March, 19.00 - 20.30

 Black Box, 18-22 Hill Street, BT1 2LA

 Register here 

 With the UK exiting the European Union on 29th March 2019, we can now explore the real implications and possibilities of ‘Brexit’.

 Drawing on research and interviews with stakeholders across four nations in the UK and Ireland, The Open University’s very own Brexit-focused panel of   academics will touch upon the potential political and economic issues for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Panel Chair: John D’Arcy, National Director, The Open University 
Panel Members: Dr Philip O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University in Ireland; Dr George Callaghan, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University in Scotland; Dr Alison Green, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, The Open University in Wales; Professor Allan Cochrane, Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, The Open University (England)

Reading in conflict

Thursday 15 March, 19.00 - 20.30

Waterstones, Fountain Street

Register here 

Grab a ‘cuppa’ and join The Open University’s Reading Communities Project for a shared reading group workshop, Reading in Conflict.

Using carefully selected extracts of literary works, written in times of struggle throughout the twentieth century, our team will discuss themes of conflict that emerge throughout the texts.


​ Welcoming migrants and refugees

  Friday 16 March, 18.00 - 19.30

 Crescent Arts Centre, University Road 

 Register here 

 What does it mean to welcome new people into a community?

 This Open University panel event sheds light on some of the challenges that migrants and refugees face, including their crossing, when they arrive to already established   communities – in Europe and Northern Ireland specifically. This event will begin with a screening of The Crossing – An Erica Starling Production for True North BBC One  NI. There will then be the chance to put your question to a panel of academics and practitioners on how the host society can take responsibility for facilitating migrants’ and refugees’ settlement and protection.

Chair: Professor Simon Lee, Professor of Law, The Open University and Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, Queen’s University Belfast

Panel members: Dr Neil Graffin, Lecturer in International Law, The Open University; Dr Sara de Jong, Research Fellow, Citizenship and Governance Strategic Research Area, The Open University; Justin Kouame, Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS); Jude Bennett, Co-Founder and CEO of Refugee Rescue.

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Upcoming events

Jan 24

Nursing Roadshow - Altnagelvin Hospital

Thursday, January 24, 2019 - 12:00 to 15:00

Altnagelvin Hospital, Clinical Education Centre, Theatre 3 or 4, Glenshane Road, Derry, BT47 6SB.

Jan 28

Nursing Roadshow - Craigavon Area Hospital

Monday, January 28, 2019 - 14:30 to 16:30

Craigavon Area Hospital, Board Room, 68 Lurgan Rd, Portadown, Craigavon BT63 5QQ.

Jan 29

Nursing Roadshow - Daisy Hill Hospital

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - 14:00 to 16:00

Daisy Hill Hospital, Bernish House, 5 Hospital Road, Newry BT35 8DR.

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If you are attending events in our Belfast office and have specific access requirements not detailed in this statement,
or simply wish to confirm accessibility arrangements please contact Reception in advance of the event: 

call 0044 (0) 28 9024 5025