The Liffey Accord is the brainchild of two people.
Trista Vincent is a Canadian-born journalist and professional storyteller. She has 20 years experience as a creative director, communications strategist and writer in the advertising business. She worked on four continents before settling in Stoneybatter in Dublin’s North inner city.
At an advertising industry forum late in 2019, she bumped into Eamon Clarkin, an Irishman who had spent the bulk of his lengthy career working on the strategic planning side of the advertising business, most notably at BBDO Dublin, before starting his own marketing consultancy business in 2010. They spent a little while bemoaning the coarse, ugly, entrenched turn that had befallen much debate in the public sphere in Ireland and beyond before resolving to do something about it.
The result is The Liffey Accord.
The Liffey Accord is a blog with a difference. Rather than advocate a particular point of view, echo chamber style, it presents both sides of contentious topical social, political and economic arguments. It believes forcefully that the path of right and the truth is generally most likely to be found in between the extremes of opinion that seem to characterise public discourse these days.
‘Before you make up your mind, open it’
This was an advertising slogan used to promote the Irish Independent in the 1980s. It pithily summarises the intent of the Liffey Accord, namely to encourage readers to respect and empathise with the Other by opening their minds to the possibility that the Other might just have a point!
The topic list is an eclectic one. Subjects are chosen on the basis both that they are significant and that there is a prevailing wisdom abroad in relation to them. This wisdom is tested through the medium of debate; so one author supports the proposition, the other opposes. Please Note: The writers may or may not hold the view they are espousing. That’s part of the value of the exercise. By considering both sides of the argument, the reader is invited to (re)consider where right and truth may lie, and perhaps to recognise their own pre-conceptions and prejudices in the process.
What do we hope to achieve through the Liffey Accord? It’s a small contribution to encourage critical thinking and consensus-building around some of the key issues, here in Ireland and internationally, that face people in especially febrile times.
Readers are invited to get involved by suggesting topics or making comments. Please note, in the interest of encouraging civility, anonymous comments will not be published.
As things progress, the nature and footprint of the blog may also evolve. In time, we may open up the floor to other contributors from time to time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.
Ireland has a decent reputation overseas as an honest broker, one that has played a full part in international organisations and in conflict resolution for several decades. Its Peace Process has been seen as a model for some others to follow. Ireland is widely seen as a defender of basic human rights and the right to free speech in particular.
The Liffey Accord exists in that spirit: to provide a platform for civil, respectful debate; to promote critical engagement; and, most of all to stand for the right of people to hold sometimes opposing views with passion and sincerity in a difficult era.
We hope you enjoy reading it and participating if you so wish.
We’re also on Twitter @liffey_the should you wish to tickle, or terrify, our egos.