North East Peace Groups meet with the Irish President

THE Causeway Coast Peace Group and Rasharkin History Group recently made the journey to the Aras in Dublin where they were delighted to meet with the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.

The trip formed part of the Faith Works Project which is supported through the European Union’s PEACE III Programme and is managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the North East PEACE III Partnership. The Faith Works Project aims to increase the confidence and ability of individuals and communities to explore faith based issues and to support faith based groups through learning, development and bottom up initiatives.

In welcoming the groups, the President remarked: “All of you in your respective groups have been on a journey of another kind over recent years. All journeys are of course shortened when we travel in the company of others.

“With the support of the EU Peace Programme, the Causeway Coast and Rasharkin Groups joined up to travel some of the journey together.”

Patricia Crossley, North East PEACE III Board member and member of the Causeway Coast Peace Group commented that the groups were honoured to share time with the President in the historic setting of Aras an Uachtarain and shared their commitment to the reconciliation process.

“We are all trying to build a reconciled society, whilst at the same time trying to address the underlying tensions and problems which helped fuel the conflict. We are searching for ways to deal effectively and sensitively with the many deep traumas of the past.

“More and more people have become peace makers.”

With support from the Peace III programme, the two groups have made valuable connections, including Corrymeela, the two Cathedrals in Belfast and now the home of the President of Ireland in Phoenix Park. The groups hope to sustain and build on this work in the future, as part of their peace building journey. Groups across the North East have taken part in a number of activities through the Faith Works Project which covers the local authority areas of Coleraine, Limavady, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Larne and Moyle. This has included workshops, conferences, a residential and site visits to other faith based projects in addition to facilitation of church forums in each local authority area.