Derry’s status as a touchstone of conciliation will be underlined on Monday with the launch of a new four-year project funded by the EU’s PEACE IV Programme, aimed at helping others learn from our peace-building example.
The ‘Derry Model’ will build on the city’s tradition of mutual respect, exemplified by nationalist Derry’s decision to embrace the rotation of the mayoralty with minority unionism from 1973 onwards.
Monday’s launch will take place in the Museum of Free Derry in the Bogside where, in 2000, in another fine example of Derry common sense, a famous compromise was reached between the Apprentice Boys and local residents. over contentious parades.
Fittingly, the model will be unveiled in the same week the European Commission’s (EC) Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, visits the city. Mr. Barnier, as EC Regional Policy chief from 1999 to 2004, held the purse strings of Europe’s peace funds and signed off on hundreds of millions of pounds for Derry and the border region.
Commenting on the new initiative, Bloody Sunday Trust Chair Robin Percival, said: “This in a unique opportunity for us to tell the story of Derry’s role in vital areas such as parading, justice, legacy, heritage, education and dialogue and we are very excited about it.
“Over the years, our museum, the Museum of Free Derry has been inundated with separate requests from organisations throughout the north of Ireland and beyond wishing to learn, not just about our troubled past, but about how major issues of contention have been processed with positive outcomes.”
Project Manager Maeve McLaughlin said 15 study visits will be facilitated annually.
The first will take place over June 14/15, the 8th anniversary of the the launch of the Saville report into Bloody Sunday and David Cameron’s public apology to the families of those gunned down on January 30, 1972.
“We will engage with 600 people over the four years who will experience our story at first hand, learn about the benefits, outcomes and mistakes and be supported to cascade this learning to their own circumstances. We have often spoke of how we tell our story and claim our leadership role - this is our chance to do it,” said Ms. McLaughlin.
Gina McIntyre of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “This project reflects the core ethos of the PEACE IV Programme which has been designed to support citizens impacted by the legacy of the conflict.”