TLP Participant Story: Irene Boada Montagut, Springfield Road TLP Spring 2021

Irene is involved with the Museum of the Troubles Initiative and did the TLP course in West Belfast (Springfield Road) in Spring 2021.

She completed the course alongside participants from Falls Residents’ Association, Falls Community Council, Belfast Trust, Avant Ministries, Guide Dogs NI, and local residents.

“The TLP Course motivates people, it’s a time to reflect, to think, to transform to develop ideas and put the learning into practice. You can be a leader!”

Introduction and Motivation

  1. What made you sign up to the course?

My name is Irene Boada Montagut. I am originally from Barcelona but have been living in Belfast for about 25 years. I have been a part-time lecturer in Queens University, have studied in Queens University and University of Ulster and I am a journalist as well. I have always been interested in politics and society here. Coming from Catalonia, a society that has many things in common with society here, I felt that I could understand the society here very well.

In the last few years I have been working for a cross community charity. Our objective is to set up a museum on the history of the troubles and a peace centre. Our ambition is to get big funding for a network of museums of different sizes. Because we think there are so many lessons to teach to other societies in the world.

That is precisely why one of our members in our charity said this course – the Transformative Leadership Programme - looks extremely interesting and useful and I immediately thought “that is the course for me”. I was very interested in the content but also, I thought it would allow me to get to know many people who live or work in the area where we are thinking to work and that has been a big success.

I started the TLP course with Falls Community Council on 15th February 2021 and the cluster area was Springfield Road.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

The course is very much on modern theories of Leadership so it starts off talking about the importance of leadership and that’s the wonderful message of the course, that anybody can change society. It’s up to you!

So, it is not a good thing to say things don’t work for this reason or the other. Or politicians should do it or my neighbour or who ever can do it. No! I can do many things. It makes me think of Obama for example: You Can Do It. Or other leaders like Martin Luther King – I have a dream. It is wonderful and very optimistic, and it helps people to come together in groups.

Then with leadership there are many leadership styles. The course takes us through them and then we are more aware of how to do things. To work with empathy, to understand other perspectives, to be a good listener, which is very important too. It is a wonderful programme for our society and for others.

I found all the topics extremely useful. They are mostly based on an intellectual: Daniel Goldman, a person that I have been very interested in in the past 20 years, whose way of thinking is based on emotional intelligence. So basically, my understanding is: If you are working with people and you have a vision you need to work with hearts and minds. So, it is very important that people learn to look after the other and to understand that different people have different motivations and interests. So, I think it is very good for all of us.

Everyone should do the course, it is a very positive message.


  1. What difference did the course make to you?

I am the eternal optimist, so I am more optimistic because it is a very positive message. Things can be done. Things that you never thought could be done. They can be done and, in this society, there are big challenges ahead for the next generations but things can be done.  If we are willing to do it there are ways to do it.  Using technology, creativity and innovation the TLP course gives you tools to do that.

The lecturers in general are very good and some of them have a lot of experience and they can share their experiences. This course was totally different because between the teachers and students there was a good range of knowledge. The course attracted people from different backgrounds and areas of work as well as community and that was very enriching. We are working with people who are living there or work there, who know the area very well and it was very good to meet them. To me it was fascinating to be able to talk to them. I met with lots of different people who normally you wouldn’t meet and that’s one of the good things about the learning.

As always time is the big issue. People have children, they have jobs and that’s the thing about adults we are all busy people. I have been thinking I wish I had read the text more. If anyone is thinking of doing the course I would say try to read through the text more. Find the time to read the literature they provide. Time is the big issue, finding time to do everything. 

Participating via Zoom has its advantages. You can do it from your home or from your office, but it is different. When we have normal life, it is my experience that when you have a cup of tea, a little chat with somebody and you relax in those moments you can do a lot of learning. So, you need those moments of being with people.


  1. Is there anything you can do now that you wouldn’t have before, or any connections you have now that you didn’t have before?

We have set up a group of work and friendship and that is great. We are very different all of us, but we have a lot to offer, and we are very happy to work together. We also have a project being planned. Deborah and Kerry from Belfast City Council have been helping us with the project development and they have been very good.


  1. Is it possible to say what difference the course has made to the interface area overall?

I think the TLP course has encouraged people. In the interface area, there are a lot of difficulties and there are lots of things that have to be done. So, I think TLP is a fabulous idea. Perhaps it would have been useful if we had more members from the other community as well because mostly we were from the one side of the interface. Having conversations from the other side would have been useful. The TLP Course motivates people, it’s a time to reflect, to think, to transform to develop ideas and put the learning into practice.

You can be a leader!

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