A major international peace conference is to be held in Derry in 2013.
Hosted by the local Rotary Club, the ‘Peace Through Building Bridges’ conference has been organised by local rotarians to mark Derry’s year as UK City of Culture and will include addresses by local and world leaders.
The high profile event - which will take place from May 24-26 - is to be attended by the President of Rotary International, Japanese business tycoon Sakuji Tanaka. Mr Tanaka agreed to launch the conference after a delegation of rotarians from Derry held talks with him at this week’s Rotary International 103rd Annual Conference in Bangkok, where they promoted the peace conference to an estimated 20,000 plus rotarians from around the world.
President of the local Rotary Club, Maurice Brennan said: “I believe that it is fitting that a major rotary event be held in the city in 2013 that will celebrate what has been achieved not only in Derry/Londonderry but in the whole of Northern Ireland over the past 15 years.
“However, we also recognise that there are still challenges ahead for all citizens.”
He explained that the 2012-13 will mark the 90th anniversary of the chartering of the local club and - as the theme for Rotary International during World President Sakuji Tanaka’s year, 2012-13 is ‘Peace Through Service’ - the club thought it would be fitting that a Rotary International Peace Conference be held in the City.
Mr Brennan added: “We, as a small club of friends, also appreciate the scale of this project and believe that this will be one of the largest projects ever undertaken by a rotary club on the island of Ireland but we are also very fortunate with the ability of members we have within our club.
“Many are true leaders in their own field, but collectively are capable of improving the lives of many less fortunate than themselves.”
The club was represented in Bangkok by Derry rotarians, past presidents Alan Rodden and Werner Scheel, president elect Gavin Killeen, John McMonagle and Nigel Sproule.
“Many of our other members that have not been able to make the trip have already been heavily involved in the preparations for the event and will continue to be over the next year, but I know with the calibre of members we have that the event will be a fantastic success.”
The itinerary for the peace conference is not finalised but the event will include keynote speeches from local and world leaders, a series of peace building workshops, and a gala event which will showcase Ebrington Square.