Messines Peace Park: Its contribution to Irish-British reconciliation

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speakers & organisersDublin City Library and Archive and The Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association presented a seminar titled 'Messines Peace Park: Its contribution to Irish-British reconciliation' on Friday 19 May at The Council Chamber, City Hall, Dame Street. Many thanks to all speakers, Bertie Ahern, Barabara Walshe, Dr Chris McGimpsey, Dr Alasdair McDonnell and Tom Burke and to the Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr, who formally opened the seminar. Thank-you to Paddy Harte Junior who read Peace Pledge to formally close the seminar.

About The Messines Peace Park

Messines Peace ParkThe Island of Ireland Peace Park, more usually known as the Messines Peace Park, is a memorial to the soldiers on the island of Ireland who died, were wounded or went missing during World War I. It is located close to site of the June 1917 battle for The Wijtschate -Messines Ridge. The project was initiated by A Journey of Reconciliation Trust, a broadbased cross-border Irish organization which hopes to bring together people of diverse beliefs. The Trust comprised representatives of the main churches in Ireland, with professional and political representatives together with community leaders from both parts of Ireland under the leadership of Paddy Harte and Glenn Barr.

The design, in the form of a Round Tower, has a unique aspect that allows the sun to light the interior only on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the anniversary of the armistice that ended the war and the time for the minute's silence on Remembrance Day. The tower was unveiled after an 11am service on 11 November 1998 by President Mary McAleese of Ireland in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and King Albert II of Belgium.

Watch the first session chaired by Tom Burke MBE, Chairman, RDFA.

Watch discussion and questions session chaired by Dr Mary Clark, Dublin City Archivist. Plus reading of Peace Pledge by Paddy Harte Junior.

About the Speakers

Tom Burke MBE, Chairman, RDFA.
Tom is a member of the First World War exhibition advisory committees to Dublin City Archive and Library, the National Museum and National Library of Ireland. He was a consultant on several television and radio documentaries on Ireland’s participation in the First World War presented by RTE, BBC (NI) and UTV. In August 2004, Tom was awarded an MBE for his contribution to the Irish Peace Process. He holds an M.Litt in Military History from UCD.

Mr. Bertie Ahern, Iar-Thaoiseach (1997-2008)
As Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern was closely associated with the Peace Process and was actively involved in the negotiations for the Good Friday Agreement, signed on 10 April 1998. On 24 September 2003, Ahern and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were jointly awarded the Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights, for their work on the Peace Process.

Dr Chris McGimpsey, Ulster Unionist Party
Chris McGimpsey has a lifetime's experience in politics, both as an elected member and as a campaigner capable of mobilising public opinion and challenging governments at the highest level. He holds a BA from Syracuse University, New York and a doctorate in Irish History from Edinburgh University.

Dr Alasdair McDonnell, Social Democratic and Labour Party
Alasdair McDonnell has been MP for Belfast South since 2005 and was Leader of the SDLP for 2011-15. He was a member of Belfast City Council from 1997 and 2001 and he has been a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly since 1998.

Barbara Walshe, Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation
Barbara Walshe has been chair of the Board of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation since October 2014. Over the past 20 years, he has worked in peace building and restorative justice roles – both in Ireland (north and south) and internationally. She also presented an RTÉ Radio series on grassroots peace building in Northern Ireland and the Border region.

Dr Mary Clark
Mary Clark is the Dublin City Archivist and is Curator of the Dublin Civic Portrait Collection. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association Archive, relating to the First World War is held in Dublin City Library & Archive.

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