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EIU Humanities Center

Jon McCourt

Thursday, Oct. 25 @5pm: Jon McCourt,“The Force of Argument is Stronger

than the Argument of Force” (The Lecture Hall, Doudna FAC)

McCourt Flyer

Doudna Samuelson Poster

On September 25, 2018 at 5pm, Jon McCourt of Northern Ireland will present stories from his eventful life in the Lecture Hall of the Doudna FAC.

“The Force of Argument is Strongerthan the Argument of Force” will address issues of struggle, loss, division, polarisation, hope and healing. McCourt will share personal moments and reflections that will bring Irish history together with global struggle and social change. Don't miss this opportunity to hear a unique voice!

McCourt has been a community Peace Activist and for over 30 years was a member, for 6 years Chairperson, of the Peace and Reconciliation Group in the City of Derry, Northern Ireland. As a young man he went on the first Civil Rights March in Derry in October 1968. He was actively engaged in almost every aspect of the conflict that arose as the result of that march. He took part in the Battle of the Bogside, when the police laid siege to the Catholic/Nationalist of Derry for three days. He saw the first soldiers arrive on the streets of Derry in August 1969, and witnessed the murder of friends and neighbours on Bloody Sunday when 14 people died at the hands of the notorious 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment.

From 1978 he has worked at building bridges between the two major communities in Derry. Encouraging and engaging in cross-community activities that have assisted in rebuilding contact, trust and cooperation across the city. Through the 1980s he continued with this work, while at the same time, working with representatives of the major protagonists to the conflict, to limit the impact of the conflict on local communities. He played a major part in the development of the Community Awareness Training Programme in cooperation with British Army which contributed to the reduction of soldiers on the streets, through a process of de-escalation and disengagement locally. With others he founded and established the first Victim Support Scheme in Northern Ireland in 1986. His story was one of several, in which he plays his own part, that became the first "Theatre of Witness" ground-breaking production "We Carried your Secrets". (

McCourt Panel

For over 25 years he has facilitated the study visits from The U.S and elsewhere, giving students an insight into the impact of the Northern Ireland Conflict. He has also travelled to and worked with those involved in conflicts in other areas of the world, including Bosnia, the Middle East, Ukraine, Colombia and conflict-torn countries in Africa.

For the last 10 years he has been engaged with The Executive Office of the Northern Ireland Assembly, where he sought an Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse. This was driven from the memory of his own experience of abuse and brutality, having spent 10 years in a Catholic-run Children's Home in Derry City. The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was the largest Inquiry of its kind held in the United Kingdom. The Report, released in January 2017 was a damning indictment of the failures of a system of care that was supposed to protect some of the most vulnerable children in our society. He continues to work to see the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report which were stalled as a result of the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive two days after the report was passed to the First and Deputy First Minister. 



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Contact Information

Director: C.C. Wharram

Doudna Fine Arts Center 1343
(217) 581-3968

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