We British share a chequered political past with our Celtic neighbours across the Irish Sea – to put it mildly. Aside from the real violence of colonisation and independence battles there’s the habitual looking down of noses pointed westwards. Be it in casual jokes and general attitudes, we’ve been a bit rubbish. Shouty headlines about what land borders might follow Brexit are hardly helping.
Yet there are plenty of more-hopeful stories about our common ties, even locally. New Frome resident Jo Berry’s incredible journey of reconciliation and healing between British and Irish sides of conflict has inspired others around the world to try the same.
Still to come, though, is any wide awareness of another quality tying Frome to Ireland. Both places, at their respective levels, are pioneers in trialling radically more-progressive ways of doing politics.
While Frome’s story is plenty well known to locals, Ireland’s almost certainly isn’t. People may have clocked the 2015 referendum approving same-sex marriage or this year’s vote to end the country’s de facto ban on abortion. Far less likely is that they know how both emerged from processes far closer to original democracy than we Brits can manage - Anything but Westminster indeed.
This Saturday - in Frome’s Rye Bakery - offers a chance to learn more. A screening of the short film When Citizens Assemble will recount how financial crisis inspired Ireland to imagine other forms of government could be possible – in this instance randomly selected citizens’ assemblies. In a relaxed Q+A with the film director and assorted others, we’ll get a chance to ponder on what those Irish have been up to while our heads were turned, and how we might learn from it.
On top of its vaunted poetry, songs, literature and people, could it be that Ireland’s next export to the world will be radically better democracy?
7pm for those who wish to bring food to share
8pm Brief intro to film
8.10 Screen WCA
8.30 Brief context of where Ireland's got to now and All Hands On.
8.40 till doors. Ponder what it means for participants in Q&A.
Rye Bakery, 22 Whittox Ln, Frome BA11 3BZ
Entry is donation on the night. Reserve tickets here.