Forget big weddings, give to poor, says Dalai Lama

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography 17th April  2013. ''His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet with Richard Moore, Director, Children in Crossfire, with pupils from St. Joseph's Boys School during a visit to the school Richard attended seven  years after being blinded in the early troubles.''Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty Photography

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography 17th April 2013. ''His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet with Richard Moore, Director, Children in Crossfire, with pupils from St. Joseph's Boys School during a visit to the school Richard attended seven years after being blinded in the early troubles.''Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty Photography

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Forget big expensive weddings, spend the money on food for the poor. That was one of the messages from the Dalai Lama on his visit to Derry on Thursday.

When speaking about the gap between the rich and the poor, the Tibetan spiritual leader told the packed Venue 2013 in Ebrington this was the way to “really celebrate marriage”.

In front of 2,500 people he recalled speaking to someone in Derry about their organisation of nuptial celebrations when he said a big wedding “is a waste of money, waste of time”. He added: “If you really want to celebrate marriage organise 20 or 30 trucks filled with fruit and bread and go around Derry City’s poor areas and slums and distribute them . . . that would be a really meaningful celebration of marriage.”

He added that in Derry, Northern Ireland and the world everyone needs “to look very seriously about” the matter of the gap between rich and poor.

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, was on a two day visit to the city as part of local charity, Children in Crossfire’s ‘Culture of Compassion’ event.

His Holiness hosted a press conference in the City Hotel before being accompanied by Richard Moore, Director of Children in Crossfire, Bishop Ken Good, Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe and Derry’s Catholic Diocesan Administrator, (Coadjutor assistant Archbishop to the Archdiocese of Armagh) Monsignor Eamon Martin in a stroll across the City’s Peace Bridge. The party was chaperoned on the walk from the cityside to the Waterside by a guard of honour of 300 local primary school children singing ‘Peace Is Flowing Like A River’.

His Holiness and the Bishops were presented with gifts from local school children Ellie Smith, Ebrington Primary School, Orla Quigley, Greenhaw Primary School and Pauric McGrolly, Belmont House School before joining 2,500 patrons at The Venue in Ebrinton Square for the Dalai Lama’s keynote address.

Earlier in the day His Holiness addressed patrons at University of Ulster Magee Campus before dropping into St. Joseph’s Boys’ School, the school Richard Moore attended for seven years after he was shot by a rubber bullet and blinded while walking home from school as a ten year-old during the Troubles. His Holiness also paid an unplanned visit to Richard’s mother’s house to meet Richard’s mother, Flo and his mother-in law, Annie Page.

During the event in The Venue guests were entertained by Christy Moore, Colm Mac, violinist from The Frames, local X Factor contestant, Janet Devlin and others. Local medical student, Oisin Duddy, from Derry was presented on stage with Children in Crossfire’s Youth Compassion Award by His Holiness in recognition of his voluntary work.