Derry to bid for Ireland's first International City of Peace title

Derry City and Strabane District council area could become the first International city of Peace on the island of Ireland.

The recommendations were unanimously endorsed by members of the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee.

Council will now submit a ‘Letter of Intent’ and proceed with the application process.

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The Reverend David Latimer, the former minister of First Derry Presbyterian church who forged a close friendship with Martin McGuinness, briefed members on the initiative.

Rev. David Latimer.

He said: “Events such as the city’s Halloween festival which over the years has grown to become Europe’s biggest, attracts global attention and is one of our city’s many aspects, attractions, events and festivals that have served to attract the attention of an organisation located in Dayton, Ohio, namely the International Cities of Peace.

“This is a formal association of communities dedicated to expanding and encouraging a global culture of peace, safety, prosperity and quality of life for all, and these are regarded by the International Cities of Peace as universal values that bring peace into the lives of people.

“So impressed by the long journey our city has been on, and acutely aware there will be many more hills to climb, International Cities of Peace wishes to assist us to develop that much coveted culture of peace by bringing us into their International Cities of Peace family.

“If we embrace this opportunity we will become the first city on the island of Ireland to have the prize, if you like, of International City of Peace.”

SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney.

Speaking of his ‘delight’ to propose the recommendations that Derry City and Strabane District become an International City of Peace were accepted, SDLP councillor Brian Tierney commented: “It would be my opinion that we should have already had that title, and probably unofficially in ways we do have that title.

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“Anyone who looks back at our history and the past will see our city has led the way in terms of peace building and with peace builders coming up throughout it.

“We are sitting in the only building in the world that will very shortly unveil three major peace prizes and I think that shows the pedigree and the story we have to tell.”

Seconding the recommendation and acknowledging the Reverend Latimer’s own contribution to building peace within the city and district, Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming added: “Within this city and district a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds and a lot of different positions within the community and society have chosen to devote their lives to building peace and moving things forward.

International Cities of Peace.
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“The concept of International Cities of Peace is one that can apply and does apply across so many countries and here in our own where we know the cost of conflict over many years.

“We also know the massive amount of work that has been done in terms of building peace in this city and district and further afield.

“Derry is a City of Peace and Derry City and Strabane District council has in their endeavours attempted to build a city and district that is open to all and where everyone’s rights are respected.”

Currently the ​​International Cities of Peace members include 369 self-established Cities of Peace including Los Angeles, USA; Toronto, Canada; Nicosia, Cyprus; Coventry, England; Bridgetown, Barbados and Durban, South Africa.

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Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter