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Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Genuine Derryman

by Stephen Miller

As I walked through the dimly lit archway I could begin to vision lights and shadows creating a perfect blend of ambiance in the craft village. This vintage nook is home to quaint coffee houses, restaurants, and local boutiques creating a warm welcoming environment. The peace of the place is surreal. Superior to the mystical peace felt by the ambiance of the village is the palpable peace being negotiated by one man, a man who is courageously dedicated to maintaining the peace and beauty tasted in the atmosphere of Derry, and his team in one of the belonging offices.

Jim Roddy was born in Derry-Londonderry in 1960. Jim was no stranger to the conflicts in his formative childhood. His birth home was on Rossville Street in the Bogside, a street that would later be home to violent conflicts, including the tragically infamous Bloody Sunday. He was born into a generation that would soon be immersed in the “troubles.” Jim’s experience growing up in conflict birthed a deep-rooted indignation that lead to a firm belief in the violent struggle plaguing his home. At the age of 16 Jim made a decision that would change the course of his life, moving to England. This stint away from home, although it was for less than a year, changed Jim’s spotlight away from conflict and to life, family, and future.

The beauty of Derry the CCI works to maintain
Today, Jim Roddy functions as the chief executive of the City Centre Initiative. The organization is the primary management figure in bridging the public and private sectors toward maintaining the city’s culture and civility. Jim, in short, is a people person. Jim Roddy resides in many ways as a great orchestrator for the city of Derry, bringing diverse religious, festive, political, and community parties together to begin dialogues. Because of Jim’s approachability, genuine love of his city, and equal care for all he is known as being a-political. This recognition allows Roddy to be a safe person for all political parties to confide in, negotiate, and dialogue. Whether it is parade details, banner or flag discussions, policing services, or the other numerous city needs, Jim Roddy is pinnacle in the peace building process.

"I've tried to put myself in another person's footsteps."

Jim Roddy and local police officers
Jim Roddy is a notable advocate of quality policing, a controversial matter in Northern Ireland. During the troubles the police force, primarily driven by loyalist agenda, was brutal and malicious. The force tormented the local people of Derry building animosity in the tired, beaten community. Derry’s law enforcement has evolved, and continues to evolve from a police force toward a police service. “Policing should be something we all do,” claims Jim. The people of Derry should look out for themselves and others, and when necessary, local police may intervene as a service to the community. Jim works intimately with local law enforcement in many ways to better the public perception of the police service. A couple of ways in which this happens are by diversifying the police department and building police-community relations. I was amazed at the platform of courage in which Jim leads and negotiates for the betterment of Derry.

"If you want to build something that is long lasting, honesty has to come to the floor."

Jim Roddy is honest, genuine, and inspirational. In my multiple interactions with Jim I have come to know him as a Derryman, an Irishman, a family man, and a friend.

Revealing the Truth One Case at a Time

By Sophia Iliakis Doherty
At midday on January 11, 1974, the sound of a bomb blast echoed through the Derry winter sky. Not an uncommon occurrence during a highly turbulent time in the famous city’s history. As life momentarily paused, the citizens of Derry were left to wonder ‘who’ just lost a loved one. How many lives would be forever impacted by that familiar deadly sound that instantaneously halts hearts for only seconds?

Yesterday, Saturday, January 11, 2014, the Derry Journal highlighted this story marking the 40-year anniversary of that fatal day. John Dunn, a 46-year-old husband and father of six and Cecilia Byrne, a 53-year-old wife and fellow worker at the British barracks at Ebrington became two of hundreds of innocent victims to lose their lives to lethal car bombs during The Troubles of Northern Ireland. The surviving family members, devastated by the immediate and untimely loss of their loved ones, are left to suffer for years without answers or resolution. Responsibility for this particular bomb, which was intended to be driven into the barracks and explode to kill large numbers of British soldiers, was not claimed until 1999 by the Official IRA.

This tragic story exemplifies the type of cases brought through the doors of The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), which works “Towards Human Rights and Truth Recovery”. PFC has offices in Derry, Armagh and Dublin and works with over 250 families who have lost loved ones during the conflict. While the larger goal of PFC is to influence the debate of coming to terms with the past, the day-to-day goals are married with the goals of the bereaved families PFC works with to bring truth through thorough investigations of cases regarding those who lost their lives during the conflict. Director of the Derry center, Paul O’Connor describes this goal as ‘gaining maximum possible access of information on behalf of bereaved families in the least traumatic of circumstances.” 

As Paul sits astutely in a chair across from me sipping a cup of coffee, his serious demeanor throws a dark shadow over our conversation, clearly depicting the gravity of their work. This was not the ‘tea and scones’, light-hearted conversation to which we’ve become accustomed. Paul and his team spend their time connecting dots.

These dedicated workers answer hard phone calls from bereaved family members, establish hard facts from historical accounts told by people recalling activities and events often decades old, shuffle through mountains of paperwork, filter facts from fiction by comparing events to reports in local newspapers, national archives, and police reports, negotiate with solicitors and government workers on behalf of family members and work to facilitate dialogue between the two divided communities of the North. They also organize and facilitate workshops, outreach events, and public meetings on potential truth processes.

On an individual basis, Paul explains the goal of each investigation is to come to as honest and thorough an explanation of the loss as possible; detailing what actually happened based on official documentation, statements and any other information that can prove helpful. Details that come out of these investigations can then be used in civil cases by family members with the understanding that some cases may never be prosecuted. According to Paul, many families are very happy simply to have the facts of what actually happened to their loved one.

PFC is a ‘non-party political, anti-sectarian, human rights group advocating a non-violent resolution of the conflict on the island of Ireland’. Paul adds that all parties to the conflict have violated human rights, and that state entities are required by law to uphold a citizen’s right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Under this article and Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states “all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”. Paul and his team work diligently to maintain this right of citizens by revealing facts, particularly regarding collusion by state governing bodies with paramilitary units which breach and have been found to violate the rights of citizens.

The center was established 20 years ago and named in honor of Pat Finucane, who was a human rights solicitor from a Catholic Republican family. Pat was gunned down, allegedly to silence him. Martin Finucane, Pat’s brother, worked alongside Paul to establish the center, ‘There’s no better way to combat that (silencing someone) then to name a center after them.’

For John Dunn’s family, clarity and coming to terms with his death came 25 years after his murder. His surviving family feel a sense of closure after this 40 year memorial this weekend. The Pat Finucane Center works to provide answers for bereaved families much sooner with the hope of bringing relief and some closure to suffering and coming to terms with Ireland’s painful past.

Nigel Gardiner

By Delaney Adams
On the banks of the River Foyle sits the Erbington Barracks, built in the early 1840’s. A former British Army base with a long history linked to the troubles. A few steps away spans the symbolic and functional peace bridge, joining a town once divided by the River, divided by politics and religion. Just behind the barracks, up a narrow flight of stairs, Nigel Gardiner spends his days with people who twenty years earlier wouldn’t dare come to the Waterside, people who wanted to see Nigel dead. Now, these past enemies have become friends. Peace and reconciliation energies have replaced his duties of control and security. Just as he once embraced his security duty responsibilities, so too is his passion and fervor evidenced in his current mission.

In 1968, at the young age of 16, Nigel saw his country being torn apart in civil strife. A struggle, centuries in the making, was building and threatening to destroy his country. Many young men chose to go the route of the paramilitary – to fight to protect that which they believed in and loved. Having been raised by a single mother who taught him the importance of family, of community, of strength and honor, Nigel instead chose the legal path of duty joining the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) at 18. The UDR was set up to replace the Ulster Special Constabulary (B specials) and tasked with the duty to support the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constable (RUC) in keeping civil rest, to thwart the violence of the terrorist, and to maintain order. Nigel spent the next 22 years in this role.

Each morning Nigel would leave his home to drive to his day job as a shirt cutter at the Hogg and Mitchell Shirt Factory. Before getting in his car, he first had to bend down and check for bombs, something that he finds himself still doing today. Instead of driving directly to his work, he would drive different routes each day, often going 7-10 miles out of the way to not be caught in a routine that could potentially make him a victim. He and his family lived in constant fear.

A “normal life” was not available to Nigel and he regrets that, people should not have to live in constant fear. After the Good Friday Agreement, he began working with the Irish Street Community Association. “I tried to build bridges between various groups in the Waterside and extend those across the city – working with every group within the city regardless of class, creed or culture,” working to build a cross cultural, inclusive community. During the conflict, Nigel lost 34 colleagues in the violence. He can tell you how each one died and the awful atrocities that he witnessed. He works to “move the peace process forward” and “create a future for our children.” In his words, "We want to engage with people who have emerged from conflict. We need to learn from the past, not repeat it." 

The organization Nigel has now dedicated his energy to is the Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Center (EPIC). Their mission is to further the peace process, to help political prisoners re-enter society. EPIC works to create a bridge from prison to peace; working for peace and reconciliation, citizenship (telling their stories in schools to encourage kids away from the violence) and social economy and sustainability. Additionally they offer welfare rights consultations to the entire community.

Leaving a legacy for his community, to give people a quality of life that was denied to them because of the conflict keeps him moving forward. He sees respect and understanding between the two groups beginning but there is not the trust yet needed to complete the peace process. This will be achieved by cross community action, by people engaging with one another, by continued meeting and dialogue. The key is to create relationships that facilitate trust, thus leading to his vision of an inclusive society.

What was achieved in the 38 years of violence and struggle and the 3700+ victims who lost their lives? Not very much, in Nigel’s eyes. There are no winners, everyone in the struggle suffered, everyone was a victim, and everyone was touched by the violence. Nigel believes in the peace process. He believes in the necessity of dialogue and of finding that place where both sides of the conflict can live side by side in an inclusive community; where one’s religion does not define neither the in nor the out group. Working with this group, Nigel shared that through the work he has been doing he has learned the true meaning of respect and to not judge others as he did in the past.

Although Nigel believes politicians are not the ones to solve the peace troubles; he is running for election in May as a member of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP). Through this work he feels he will be better able to facilitate the communication that will move the peace process forward more quickly and inclusively – by the citizens of the community. By people who are committed to overcoming differences, finding a common ground from which to work and fixing things to provide adequate services and quality of life for all people.  It's time to find peace in Londonderry / Derry.

From Darkness Into Light

by Lisa Becker

“I stand before you a grandfather and a father. I stand before you a convicted terrorist.” James Greer bared his soul to his people, his friends, and his former enemies in 2011 as he spoke these poignant words during the dedication of the Peace Bridge to the people of Derry. How he came to make this confession is quite a story.
James Greer

As a young boy growing up in Derry James was surrounded by utter disregard for human life. In 1966, when James was only 11-years-old, he and some friends were playing on a wooden plank by the River Foyle. As they were returning to the bank, the plank toppled and 7-year-old Thomas plummeted into the rushing river. James raced for help, but the old man he stopped simply drove away not wanting to get involved. James ran back down to the bank searching desperately for some sign of his friend, finally spotting Thomas a short way down the bank, his mop of red hair bobbing up and down in the rushing water. James tried with all his might to save him, but just grazed his hand before the tide swept Thomas away for good. Upon his return home that evening his mother simply said, “Get out of those wet clothes.” They found Thomas drowned three days later, the same red hair floating in the water, like seaweed lingering on the surface of the ocean. James could not help but be impacted with the realization that his was the last face Thomas saw before he died; James the last person he had touched. At the tender age of 11, James had a burden that was his alone to bear. A burden he would carry forever.

James reminiscing in the green room. 
There would be more darkness to follow. James spent a single year in the Army in 1971, before choosing to return home instead of taking a post in Cypress, a decision which haunts him to this day. He paused in his story telling and, gazing thoughtfully out the window, whispered, “How different could things have been?” His return from service plunged him in the chaos that had become Derry. The devastation and trouble in the Bogside- the bombings, the tear gas, the killing each day- meant James was still at war. He could not escape the struggle and ultimately joined the UDA, the Ulster Defense Association. He was arrested in 1974, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 15 years in prison on bomb charges. Sitting in his cold, dark prison cell one day, a fellow inmate lamented his great disappointment at being unable to kill an 8-year old girl he had fired at in a shop. His only concern was that he had failed at taking her life. In that moment James realized the horror of what the Troubles had done to him and his people; he began to see the light that had evaded his life for so long.  Upon his release in 1979, James was a changed man. He spent the next years avoiding the violence surrounding him, eventually moving on in his career and with his life. Yet who James is today, is not defined by the dark events of his past.

Theatre of Witness
Unbeknownst to him at the time, a call he received in 2009 would be the light he did not know he was searching for. He was contacted to take part in a new program at the Playhouse called “Theatre of Witness” where combatants and victims, officers and family members, and all those wounded by the Troubles could come together in a public forum to tell their stories and promote understanding and healing. The program is designed to help people bear witness and put a face and a heart to the painful, true stories.

When James was first invited to the Playhouse situated just inside the city walls, he chose to park just outside the walls in the Fountain area. He walked in through the gate focused on his mission, but as he started down the street his steps began to slow as he filled with uneasiness. He turned around, thinking he could not and should not do this. He quickly paced back to his vehicle in the Fountain, where he had come from, where he was safe, where he felt he should be. When he reached his vehicle James was overwhelmed by the shame of what he had done yet completely afraid of what he was about to do. He wanted desperately to tell his story, to move on, and it was from that desperation that he found the strength to walk back to the Playhouse and begin his new journey.
James found his light on stage. 

For James, the story telling was therapeutic. He performed 14 times in that first year. 14 times he sat on stage and told his story inches away from an enthralled audience. 14 times the audience lived his deep emotional trauma, their empathy forever joining them in that moment. 14 times he shared space and time with five other narrators, all of whom were former enemies, and had now become not only friends but family. As we sat talking in the green room at the Playhouse, James conjured up the image from Gulliver’s Travels. He felt as Gulliver dragging the ships, carrying the burden on the human soul, carrying the weight of his secrets. The more James told his story, the more weight he was able to release. As the burden started falling off, the ships would sink behind him one by one. James said it best when he stated, “The medicine is in the story.” What they did was not worth the life of one person, let alone the thousands who lost their lives during the Troubles.

 “As much as you would like to change the past you can’t but you can live with it and change the future.”
The Playhouse

Today James is thankful for what he has done, yet he realizes what it has cost him. “My people would believe I had turned my back on them as a traitor. They would see it as the ultimate betrayal of my people and my beliefs. But I know that what I am doing now is better than killing people. Of course it is.” The light and peace that now emanates from James does not go unnoticed. He realizes the peace journey is a work in progress, one that will never truly be complete, but it he can now carry his wounds with more ease and help others who are suffering. Not only has James brought peace to himself, he is hoping to reach outside of the historical conflict between Catholic and Protestant, Nationalists and Unionists, to include the local ethnic minorities, who are severely marginalized in Derry today. He would like to someday create a hub, a common ground, where those minorities would be welcome. His plan for a peaceful gathering place in Derry would include the peripheral ring of society as well as all those who have been involved with the struggle for so long. After many years of turmoil James realizes that peace building must be for all.

Understanding new beginnings

by Armando "AJ" Davila

Taken from his home in a raid by RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) police and British Army on Easter Sunday in 1978, Charlie McMenamin at the age of 16 was tortured so severely, physically and psychologically, that after the first few hours, he attempted to take his own life with a little metal screw he pulled from a radiator in his cell. Charlie was an average kid from the Bog Side who had little education, but was never a criminal. His exposure to the Troubles that overwhelmed the communities of Derry were almost surreal and were imprinted into his memory for the rest of his life. How does one take all the bad experiences and hatred built up from those experiences and make a better life for himself and others based on forgiveness and wanting change? Charlie McMenamin is a man of vision and ambition to make a difference for his people and his country.

Charlie McMeniman
“For 3 days I was badly beaten. I had all my hair pulled all out. I had my ears slapped. I was made to stand a lot. Shouted at. Psychologically tortured. And on the first day, after about 8 hours of torturing and interrogation - being told that I was accused of things I never did. I was taken to my cell for a break, which was the first break I had taken. I grabbed a screw from a radiator and tried to cut my wrist.”

At the age of 16, Charlie McMenamin was imprisoned and held without trial before being taken to a judge to face accusations that he later in life proved were not true. He was accused of serious offenses like attempted murder, possession of guns, and multiple other charges. Charlie pleaded his case and defense to his attorney, who in no way helped him convey his innocence to the court. Charlie says "The System", as he called the judicial set-up at the time, was allegedly corrupt and he was forced to plead guilty to offences by his attorney's incompetence in seeking the overturn of the case. It was a choice of either pleading not guilty and receiving 30 years imprisonment, or guilty and only one year in prison. During his three long and agonizing years behind prison walls, Charlie developed a hatred for anyone wearing a uniform or that stood for the so-called judicial system in Northern Ireland.

DRAC from 1978
While in prison awaiting trial, Charlie was exposed to other pressures. The first two years of his sentence were spent in the Crumlin Road Jail in the H-blocks. The last year was served in a junior prison of Millisle, 100 miles away from his family. During his time in captivity, he was encouraged to join “the fight” against wrongful imprisonment and a corrupt government system which tailed into the the main agenda set forth by the strong Ireland resistance – wanting the British to leave and have no rule over Northern Ireland. Even though Charlie was against the government system, he was not considered part of "the Struggle."

At one point, Charlie decided to stop his prison protests against the government system, because his family was not getting the financial support that the other families of political prisoners were getting from support organizations. His decision to stop protesting was in support of his mother who had just lost her son to a corrupt system and the financial hardships that were beginning to stack up. This created a lot of tension with his fellow inmates that were very proactive in "The Struggle" as political prisoners. Charlie was ostracized by his fellow inmates, which added more pressure to a young man already fighting "The System." He eventually rejoined the prison protest to help claim the right as an innocent man wrongfully accused.

After prison, due to his high resentment of the Northern Irish systems and hatred for the RUC and British Army rule, Charlie supported the use of violence by those opposing British rule in Irish affairs. Throughout the 1980's, Charlie was in and out of prison. He finally found himself moving to Paris, France, in 1988, where he lived for two years. “It was the first normal period I had had in my life. Normality was not something I was used to. It was so nice to be around really good human beings. Even the British people there were nice.” This experience of humanization was a revelation to Charlie. He knew that at this point, there were good people in the world and that the people of Ireland needed to look for a peaceful solution. During the 1990’s, Charlie attempted to start his new beginning by looking for better ways to combat the Troubles, mainly through peace and dialogue.

Local youth group Charlie
helped facilitate
Given that the 1990’s were still very chaotic in Northern Ireland, Charlie started his foundation trying to improve the life of those in his community. It was a slow start for Charlie, as he was trying to find ways to promote the thought of unity and peace. It wasn't until the mid-2000 that Charlie began to rise in his community as a leader and mentor. Organizations like Triax, which oversaw smaller groups and helped facilitate anti-sectarian and anti-community work, and Drink Think, whose aim is to encourage the local population and beyond to adapt a responsible and sensible approach to alcohol, were stable organizations that Charlie helped facilitate. These organizations have proven to be very effective in the recent years, which in turn has made Charlie a prominent citizen of his community and a leader that poses better solutions towards reaching peace.

In 2003, due to the changes in the new judicial system of Northern Ireland, Charlie was able to take his convictions back to court and eventually have them overturned and declared a "miscarriage of justice." Charlie finally had a sense of closure for the hatred that had built up in his body and mind for all of those years.

“Being in the heart of any community is the only place you can be at times of war, troubles or strife. When you understand it from within, you can be an encourager and enabler of change; empowering those around you to make informed choices about their lives and showing leadership to those who may have become disillusioned or misguided in the process.”

Charlie emphasizes a popular quote stated by Albert Einstein, “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

What is Your Peace Process?

By: Julie Mills
For Richard Moore his peace process was forgiveness. Richard believes first and foremost forgiveness was the best gift he could give himself. Richard also believes forgiveness doesn’t change the past, but it does change the future.

Richard Moore is a 52 year old man that was born and raised in Derry, Northern Ireland. On May 4, 1972, several months after Bloody Sunday, while walking home from school, Richard was struck by a rubber bullet hitting him on the bridge of his nose and leaving him blind for the rest of his life.

On that day just as any other day, at about 20 passed 3 in the afternoon, Richard was running home from school with several other boys that attended St. Eugene’s Primary school. As the boys ran through the soccer pitch of St. Joseph’s School on their way home to Creggan Estate, close by was the British Army installation, a British soldier fired the rubber bullet which changed his life forever.
Richard Moore

Richard remembers his brother being very angry and wanted retaliation upon the soldier who fired the rubber bullet. Richard’s parents were very devout Catholics. They went to mass every day. Neither one of them wanted revenge or wanted harm placed upon the soldier. Richard’s mother told his brother, “If you want to help Richard, you help him, but you cannot help him by hurting somebody else.”

Four months before Richard’s accident, his uncle Gerry McKinney was shot and killed during Bloody Sunday. Richard’s mom’s brother was killed by a soldier and now her 10 year old son was injured for life. His parents were traumatized, brokenhearted and deeply hurt, but his parents were never angry. His parents promoted forgiveness. That is where Richard got his ability to forgive.

As the years passed, Richard began his Peace Process. Richard says forgiveness is the greatest gift of all. Even though Richard was blinded as a child, he always felt like he had a good life and never felt like he was in any way losing out. While working as a businessman in the City of Derry, Richard used to work with development workers who came from overseas, and Richard became enthralled about what was happening overseas. Richard then felt pulled towards Africa and wanted to help those children in need. Richard realized there were children in other parts of the world that may have their eyesight, but didn’t have what he had; they didn’t have the opportunities that he had. He then became interested in the children in the world who lived in poverty. To Richard poverty is an issue of justice. He wanted to be a voice for children who couldn’t be a voice for themselves.

In 1996, Richard started the non-profit organization Children in Crossfire. Children in Crossfire is a poverty relief organization put in place to help children under the age of 8 years old who live in Tanzania, Ethiopia and The Gambia. Children in Crossfire’s main area of focus is primary education, preschool education, nutrition, and early detection of disabilities. Children in Crossfire works with local organizations in those areas to help empower the people. They believe in giving the people the power of decision and to take control of their own lives. The people of these areas need to become sustainable and allow people to make decisions.

Children in Crossfire raises money through a variety of events such as holding charity event dinners, raising money through zip lining events over the River Foyle, run an Advent campaign during the Christmas holiday in Ireland, and also raise money from the general public by placing collection cans in supermarkets and other stores.

Richard believes his organization cannot cure poverty. They are a small organization. They aren’t capable of curing poverty, but they can impact positively in the communities where they operate. One example where this has happened in Tanzania is at a children’s cancer project. Children were being treated in a rat infested shed. There was very little medical equipment. Only 12% of the children were surviving. Today through funding that has been received, there is now a hospital facility that has proper medicine for the children, and there is a school attached for the children who are well enough to attend. There is also a hostile for their parents to stay and an area that allows the parents to produce products such as beaded necklaces to sell to help make money for them. The success rate of survival is now up to 60%. 

Children in Crossfire is also helping parents get educated about malnutrition. They are helping the parents grow vegetables while educating parents how to recognize the signs of malnutrition. In Ethiopia 150 health workers are now going into the villages and teaching parents how to prepare food for a balanced diet. In two years Children in Crossfire has reached their three year goal of reducing malnutrition by 30%.

When I asked Richard the reason for choosing this organization he told me that he realized there were much worse things than blindness. And he realized he may have had his difficulties, but he could overcome those. It was possible for him to live a normal, active life as a blind person. If someone like him can come through given what he went through, he believes anybody, given the right opportunity and given the right choices and level of support, is capable of not only surviving but of contributing in a positive way to their own life and the lives of their family and community. And these children in Africa if given the right opportunity, they will contribute in a positive way to their environment. The motto of Children in Crossfire is giving children the chance to choose, and every child deserves the right to be able to say I want to be, I want to do.

As Richard Moore chose his Peace Process to help these children through his charitable organization, he encourages every individual to enter their own mind and ask the question what is my peace process. We can all make a difference by spreading peace worldwide.

Donations may be given at

Integrating through Education

by Dawne Davis
Upon entering the campus office one is quick to observe piles of papers and texts resting where they were placed, perhaps not in the same spot as the day or so before.  Natural light from the window supports the overhead florescent lighting and gives the large office more than ample illumination.  The neutral brick painted walls appear somewhat stark, except for two quotes posted which are highly revered by the occupant.

The office belongs to Colm Cavanagh, who works in education administration as the Managing Director for North West Regional College (NWRC).  The role provides him the opportunity to influence job development in Northern Ireland through vocational skills training for young people.

However, Cavanagh's passion is the establishment of integrated education in divided cities, like Derry/Londonderry.  Through stories Cavanagh's enthusiasm for education and dedication to Northern Ireland's future seems boundless.  Cavanagh is a storyteller. His stories exhibit the challenges, successes, human factors and learnings experienced by himself and others who share his calling.  Most notably, his stories educate the listener.  Those willing to listen to his words will be engaged in his presence and will walk away informed, enlightened and motivated.

Since completing his law degree, around the start of the Troubles, Cavanagh has held many voluntary and professional roles.  His personal interest in divided people and/or cultures took him to African countries, such as Tanzania and South Africa, to see first-hand the challenges encountered and how they were or were not being addressed and or managed.  In Derry/Londonderry, Cavanagh has worked to foster community and economic development, using his own personal learnings from Africa to help develop a vision for Northern Ireland.

In 1989, the Department of Education was legally bound by a statutory obligation to encourage and facilitate integrated schools in Northern Ireland.  Soon after the mandate, Cavanagh and his wife Anne were among a group of parents determined to create an Integrated Primary school.  The parents were faced with the daunting tasks of finding and bringing together interested parents from both Protestant and Catholic faiths.  They needed to locate neutral venues to hold difficult discussions, in addition to finding staff, students, a building and securing funding so the educational landscape of Northern Ireland could be changed.  Cavanagh was elected co-chair of the parent committee, sharing the position with a Protestant representative.  With the assistance from the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) their efforts were rewarded.  In 1991 the Oakgrove Integrated Primary school was opened as the 14th integrated school in Northern Ireland and Cavanagh's first.

NICIE has benefited from Cavanagh's contributions for more than twenty years.  In his current role as NICIE President, Cavanagh can report that there are sixty-two integrated schools with over twenty-one thousand students in the Derry/Londonderry area.  While these statistics only represent 7% of the current Derry/Londonderry school system, there is reason to be proud.  Cavanagh continues to network and share NICIE's learnings with countries across the world who are experiencing the issues and challenges associated with school segregation. He has published articles and book chapters on the topic of integration/desegregation, as well as the successes of NICIE.

Cavanagh not only shares his stories, but takes inspiration from movies and books, quoting from the book Cry The Beloved Country which takes place in South Africa during Apartheid and To Kill a Mockingbird depicting racially tense inequality in the 1930s US south. Cavanagh is encouraged by the success of the student achievements and knows that the model is working well.  He believes that the landscape has changed significantly and the threat previously perceived as a result of school integration is minimizing.  While there are still hurdles, Cavanagh will continue to work towards his goal of "having an integrated school placed in an area for every child wants it in Northern Ireland."

The conversation with Cavanagh ended, quite appropriately, with him sharing a story that he believes, "is the best description of integrated eduction that he has heard." One of the parents of a mixed marriage (one Protestant and one Catholic) told the story of a conversation with their eight year old daughter a few days after she starting attending an integrated school for the first time. As the daughter was putting away her school bag and coat, the mother asked how her day had gone. The response was, "fine." The mother then asked how the girl liked her new school.  A very similar response was given,"it's fine." The mother continued with one final question asking the daughter what the differences were between her new school and old school.  The response was truly unexpected. The daughter responded "mommy, I never told you this before, but at my old school I never talked about you. I talked about daddy; but I never talked about you. At Oakgrove, I can be proud of both of you."

Through the efforts of the NICIE, spearheaded by Cavanagh and its members, there is greater potential for Northern Ireland to evolve into a united identity that is neither seen as Protestant nor Catholic, but one that is grown through unification.

An Unexpected Journey

Michael Doherty, Peace and Reconciliation Group

 By Steve Poole

At the age of 13, Michael Doherty left school and joined the family business in one of the world"s oldest professions. Michael became a barber.  He learned his trade along side of his father and carried on the family tradition.  The family barbershop was a place where everyone was welcome and it is was an important part of the community.  This was especially true on October 5th, 1968.  This was the day of the Civil Rights Riot which traveled right past the front door of his family's shop  The injured sought and found a place of refuge where they could have their wounds tended and find safety if only for a few moments.  Ironically the barbers of ancient Greece and Rome were also looked to as surgeons and healers.  It was in this moment that Michael too began his journey towards becoming a healer.  Not just the healing of wounds of the flesh, but the healing of hearts and souls and the healing of a community and a nation.

Peace and Reconciliation Group, founded in 1990
The journey would not be without struggle and loss.  In 1972 he was present when one of his best friends was killed in the Bloody Sunday riot.  In 1974 the family barbershop was blown up by the IRA because they opened their shop to all customers, including the British Army and the police.  Michael credits these three events with being the catalyst that moved him to do something to make a difference and to become a peace builder.  The path included a return to the classroom in 1979 where he earned a Bachelors in Social Administration and a Master's degree in Public Administration at Magee University.

After graduation, he found himself back among the people, working as the very first Community Relations Officer. Doherty recalls, "no one had a clue what I was supposed to be doing".  Michael persevered and began to work with people in the community to develop opportunities and resources to begin conversations and teach communication skills.

Another Lifeline, By Michael Doherty
In 1990 the Peace and Reconciliation Group was founded.  Doherty recalls that the  original purpose was to offer events and opportunities for youth from different parts of the community and different alliances to meet and get to know each other.  A few years later, Michael took the role as Executive Director and began to lead the organization in a different direction.  His vision was focused on teaching skills for mediation and conflict resolution that might some day lead to a lasting peace.  Over the years, his vision for the organization continued to expand.  This included a trip to Boston and Philadelphia in 1990 to learn about race relations and conflict resolution from a Quaker approach.   Then when President Bill Clinton offered to send him and nineteen others to Fordham Law School for training in mediation and negotiation, he jumped at the chance.  When I asked Michael what he had learned from the experts in America, he chuckled and said, "don't do it like the Americans".  He explained that what he learned in America was an evaluative style of mediation. In this style of mediation, when there is an impasse, the mediator offers suggestions or advice.  Doherty continued, "in the Quaker model you never give advice."  It is a style that has worked well for Michael and his organization and has led him to opportunities to travel around the world as a mediator and to bring peace to his own country, as well as other lands.

 In 1997 he served on the Parades Commission. This organization grants or denies parade permits to all of the various organizations. This is a position that is highly sought after and extremely demanding and stressful.  He ultimately resigned when he was accused by one ot the organizations of denying them a permit for reasons of bias.

Mural depicting Nobel Peace Prize Winners
When I asked Micheal what he was most proud of, he thought for a moment and then replied, "when I help to save a life".  It would be fair to say that through his work over the years he has helped to save many lives and has much to be proud of.   In addition to his work as a trainer and mediator, Michael has also written several books and training manuals on peace building and mediation.  His most current book will be released in June, 2014 and is entitled, The Peace Builders Workbook: For Facilitators working in Divided Societies. 

When I asked Michael what comes next for him on this challenging and unexpected journey.  He acknowledged that he would not be in this role forever, and one of his responsibilities is to help train the next generation of leaders and peace builders. 

Doherty has no illusions about the fragility of the peace process and knows that there is much more work to be done.  While the future will likely not be free of violence, he believes that what will be different is how the community responds and that they will not tolerate a return to the past.  So, as the people of Northern Ireland pursue their march towards peace, it clear that Michael Doherty remans at the head of that parade.

A Family Affair for the Future of The Fountain’s Youth

By Arlene Melo

Cathedral Youth Club
Graham Warke
It is 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and the nearly vacant two-floor Cathedral Youth Club is suddenly filled with giggles coming from wide-eyed children, steps from children running up the stairs, and challenges from six-year olds being proposed across the pool table. The youth club – along as the dartboard, pool tables, game consoles, and computers – has come alive. As he completes fundraising proposals and unpacks the latest tools for the club, Graham Warke glances out the commemorating window outside the main office and walks out to welcome the schoolchildren, along with Alan Warke, who is the club’s African drum instructor, mentor, and my personal guide for the “Footsteps Through The Fountain” tour. After a few minutes, one of the young boys smiles at Graham as he accepts the boy’s invitation to play a game of darts.

Alan Warke
Graham and Alan Warke are the sons of Jeanette Warke and the late David Warke, co-founder of the Cathedral Youth Club. The Warke family has been actively involved with the youth club since it’s beginning in the old Cathedral School London Street, within the city walls. Opened in 1972, the youth club aimed to provide a facility for Protestant young people to participate in recreational activities once a week during the difficult time of civil unrest in the years of the Troubles.

Office window commemorating David Warke
After moving locations in the years that followed, the youth club opened its current location in 1980 in The Fountain Estate area. The club pledged to continue their mentorship for young people living in The Fountain Estate, the Waterside and near surroundings. The Fountain is presently the last Protestant area on the city side of the River Foyle in Londonderry. With the Protestant population declining rapidly, the Foundation community has made efforts to maintain its culture and history, with tri-color painted sidewalks and British flags. As the only youth club in the Protestant area, the club provides an environment where young children can participate in dance, art and computer classes, along with drama workshops and sports matches.

View of The Fountain from the youth club
The Cathedral Youth Club aims to provide a safe environment for the youth to expand their horizons and participate in activities that can guide them to build bridges through educational and recreational activities, and encourage the young people to get involved in cross community programs – rather than be ignited with the hostility experienced throughout the city’s history.

In December 2013, Graham Warke was acknowledged with a special recognition award from the Youth Justice Agency for supporting young people through reparation. Graham takes pride in encouraging young people to reflect on their offending behavior while helping restore fractured relationships in the community. He has also been working closely with both Catholic and Protestant schools to bridge the differences experienced in both communities, through soccer and boxing matches. “It’s great to see the youth shake hands and enjoy a great match as a team,” expressed Graham.

The youth club has also recently introduced the “Footsteps Through The Fountain” project where teenagers from The Fountain offer tours to Catholic students in order to change the stigma and introduce them to The Fountain community and culture. As expressed by Dean, one of the young tour guides, “Everyone is welcome on what should be a very exciting and informative tour. I’m looking forward to showing people around our area and showing them the murals and other historic tourist attractions like the jail.”

As felt throughout the city, Graham has been pleased to see how calm Londonderry has been in the last two years. “In the last year or so, people are coming together and talking through their problems. It’s been completely different and it’s looking brighter for our youth.” This was vividly expressed when Graham began to describe the scene during the recent City of Culture events occurring around the city the last couple of months. “It was great to see the youth come together, despite their different backgrounds, and be united through music. This would have never been possible a couple of years ago.”

As you walk around the rooms in the Cathedral Youth Club and gaze at the murals outside the club, there is a vivid sense of community and pride in The Fountain’s heritage the Warke family has fostered throughout the years, but most significantly, there is a palpable feeling of the desire for the youth to be liberated from the past. A few meters away from the youth club, in the community garden, a bronze sculpture of a young apprentice angel can be seen. Designed by youth club members and artist Ross Wilson, the sculpture is patterned with keys collected from within The Fountain Estate, along with a recast key from the Siege of Derry in 1689. The plaque summarizes the hope the community holds for its youth’s future, “…the Past is always present but the Future is key to us all, we alone have the power to unlock it and the right to experience it.”

For more information on the Cathedral Youth Club, click here.