Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade -Anti Sectarianism,Peace and Reconciliation Conference Dublin 2012
Weds 20th June 2012 saw Dee Mc Kerr and Stephen Mc Nally from Clann Eireann Youth Club travel to the splendid surroundings of The Royal Hospital Kilmainham for the 7th Annual Anti-Sectarianism and Peace and Reconciliation Forum as organised by The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. Some two hundred delegates where in attendance from all over the island of Ireland representing youth and community groups engaged in programmes to promote education, understanding and mutual respect for all traditions within these islands.
Keynote speaker for the day was Mr Eamon Gilmore Tainiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. In his address he commended all those present for their ongoing work to promote reconciliation and lessen sectarianism in the communities which they live and work. He assured all of the respective groups present of the Dublin governments ongoing and continued commitment to such work and committed his department to continue to provide financial assistance for programme funding throughout the country.
He also touched on the need to have continued dialogue at national and local levels as to how our society as a whole remembers, commemorates and celebrates the upcoming series of anniversaries which are pending in this “decade of centenaries” He expressed the commonly shared view that this must be done in a respectful and sensitive way so as not to exclude or alienate any community or organisation. Upon Mr Gilmores departure a panel of guest speakers took up this general theme offering to the conference their own personal views.
The panel was made up of Mr J. O Dowd MLA Minister of Education in The Northern Executive , Mr Ciaran Cannon TD Minister for Training and Skills (Dail Eireann) Ordan Reid Strategy Development Manager Northside Partnership and June Trimble Director Youth Action N.I . The discussion entitled A Decade of Remembering….. a Decade of Planning was chaired by Andy Pollack Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies.
The panel gave their views around such issues and opened the debate to the floor. After lunch delegates took part in a series of workshops which they had signed up for earlier in the day, topics discussed ranged from Interfaces and Peace Walls, The role of Sport in reconciliation and anti-sectarianism , Decade of Commemorations-experiences so far and Education-Approaches to reconciliation inside and outside the classroom . In the concluding plenary session of the day facilitators and participants of the various workshops gave feedback to the main meeting on what had been discussed. The message from the conference was well done, great work – but still a lot to do!