Michael Oatley played a central role in back-channel communication aimed at securing a peaceful settlement of conflict in Northern Ireland and worked closely with intermediary Brendan Duddy for more than twenty years. As an SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) officer who held senior positions in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, he brought extensive international experience to the role he played in Ireland. He spoke at the Negotiating Peace symposium at the National University of Ireland Galway about the nature of his role in the North, his work with Brendan Duddy and about the need to understand the diverse motivations for political violence. He noted that the rhetoric of the 'War on Terror' is frequently used to justify state abuses in places such as Chechnya and Gaza and called for European governments, and in particular the British and Irish governments, to take a 'truly independent stance' on the issue of Palestine. The symposium took place on 22 November 2011 in association with the launch of the papers of Brendan Duddy which are deposited in the library archives at NUI Galway (archives.library.nuigalway.ie/duddy).
The video of the question and answer session that followed is available on Kaltura (kaltura.com/index.php/kmc/preview/partner_id/723092/uiconf_id/7752572/entry_id/1_dlr7lgza/delivery/http)
The symposium was hosted by the Centre for the Study of Nationalism and Organised Violence (nuigalway.ie/ssrc/specialised_centres/csnov.html), organised in association with the President's office and the Hardiman library, and supported by research funding from the IRCHSS and the School of Political Science and Sociology.