March 18, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Ed Henderson

Ed Henderson was born and raised in South Belfast by his mother, a talented nurse and his father, a local journalist, turned author who focussed on reporting the Troubles through the 70s to present day. Ed studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Istitution until he turned 21 when he moved to England to study marketing and advertising in Newcastle Upon Tyne. On finishing his degree in 2007 he moved to London to work in advertising until 2014 when he decided to return home and set-up back in Belfast. He is currently an account director working at an advertising agency in South Belfast.

Brian John Spencer: "When did you first learn about the Easter Rising of 1916?" Ed Henderson:
"I first learned about the Easter Rising in my 2nd year of secondary school - Like most of my age and mindset, it was a point where I suddenly felt like I was being introduced to more of the context as to why things in Northern Ireland were the way they were at that time. Of course there were more intricacies to the situation than any 16 year old would know for a while but it was interesting to start to understand about local history that was still fresh in the minds of a lot of the local population."
BJS: "Do the men, the act or the stated ideals in the proclamation mean anything to you?" EH:
"To be honest, no. I prescribe to the belief that this is history and the island of Ireland has evolved and moved on into something more focussed on the future. Moving away gave me a lot of perspective and I learned to respect all cultural beliefs and differences."
BJS: "When did you first learn about the Battle of the Somme?" EH:
"My first year of secondary school - the first time I was hearing about serious events that shaped the world. It felt so important and significant that learning it wasnt taxing or boring, in fact it felt like understanding it was a responsibility."
BJS: "Does this act, the men and their determination to show their loyalty to Britain mean anything to you?" EH:
"It was interesting & exciting to first understand more about a war that shock the world. It gave me a whole new perspective on what was sacrificed and at stake on a global level less than 80 years prior."
BJS: "As a (British/Irish/Northern Irish*) person, is the 1916 Rising important to you and your sense of identity and sense of belonging on this island?" EH:
"No. I dont particularly relate or associate to it as an event that has shaped who I am today."
BJS: "As a (British/Irish/Northern Irish*) person, is the Somme offensive important to you and your sense of identity and sense of belonging on this island?" EH:
"It is important me in that everything I take for granted is the way it is as a result of that event and the subsequent years afterwards."
BJS: "Will you be commemorating or celebrating either of these two events in April and July of this year respectively?" EH:
"Probably not. Although I understand these events and appreciate their historical significance, I am not likely to commemorate them. This is not born out of an irreverence of the events but a decision to avoid any affiliation with either - im proud to be from Northern Ireland and I am respectful of everyone from here who decides to celebrate during these periods."
BJS: "Are you happy with the series of commemorative events put on by the Irish State? And what do you think of Arlene Foster's take on the events of Easter 1916 (she has refused to attend any commemorations)?" EH:
"There are people who do see the rising as a event that holds personal significance and if they are keen to pay respect to it, I am happy for them to do that. It is a personal choice for people and and someone who was raised on respect for everyone, it wont effect me. With regards to Arlene Foster's decision, I don't think i'll lose too much sleep over it to be honest. The current economic climate and political stability in Northern Ireland is something I care much more about than the Easter Rising commemorations as it directly effects the country we are living in today and the people in it."
BJS: "As a person on (or from) the island are you happy with the where we are now at in terms of culture, cosmopolitanism and broad-mindedness?" EH:
"I'm am much happier with the current state of culture in Northern Ireland - it has come along leaps and bounds since when I was younger and will only improve. I have so much confidence in our county right now."
BJS: "What are your hopes for the future  of this divided province and island?" EH:
"I am keen to see a continued development of our cultural identity in the eyes of the rest of the world; from diversity in our music and arts through to increased exposure of our entertainment sporting talents on a global stage."
BJS: "Please share any further thoughts these questions may have stimulated." EH:
"I'm an impartial patriot from Northern Ireland - I simply care about this place and the people in it irrespective of their beliefs."
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