The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

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Watchback - Discourse Series: Explaining Unionism

23 April 2024

Watch the recording of the panel discussion with Linda Ervine MBE, Philip Orr MRIA and Glenn Patterson, chaired by Tommie Gorman, that took place on 18 April 2024.

Our panel:

Linda Ervine MBE is a language rights activist from East Belfast. She is a speaker and supporter of the Irish language and is the founder and project leader of the Turas Irish language project, which aims to connect people from Protestant communities to their own history with the Irish language.

Philip Orr MRIA is an independent scholar, playwright and public intellectual who brings the fruits of research into the public sphere to advance peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. He was admitted as a Member of the Academy in 2018.

Glenn Patterson is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter living in Belfast. He is a founding patron of Fighting Words Northern Ireland, and is the Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University Belfast.

Chaired by Tommie Gorman, RTÉ News Northern Editor (2001-2021). His autobiography Never Better: My Life in Our Times was published in 2022.

The Royal Irish Academy’s discourses are the oldest and most renowned series of talks in Ireland. The first discourses were presented in 1786. Historically, Academy discourses were the occasion reserved for the most distinguished academics to first reveal and discuss their research in public. Continuing in this tradition, the Discourse Series brings international experts to the Academy to discuss important contemporary issues in front of a live audience. Past discourses are available to watch back on

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