Derry-Londonderry ready to develop cities forum
by Forum for Cities in Transition
20 April 2009
A delegation of senior councillors and community organisations from the city have taken part in a high level forum of cities in transition, in Boston, USA, from Tuesday, 14th to Thursday, 16th April.
Mayor Gerard Diver, Deputy Mayor Maurice Devenney and Councillor Maeve McLaughlin were joined by Brian Dougherty of St Columbs Park House and Michael Doherty of the Peace and Reconciliation Group.
Thirty-six mayors, ministers, councillors, officials and non-governmental organisations from the cities of Derry/Londonderry, Nicosia (Cyprus), Mitrovica (Serbia/Kosovo) and Kirkuk (Iraq/Kurdistan) debated for three days the complex challenges that each divided cities have.
Gerard Diver, Mayor, explained: “We were humbled by some of the stories we heard from the other cities and heartened by the spirit of resilience we observed. I see significant opportunities for learning, for the benefit of all the citizens of our respective cities. We can proud of the progress we have made here at home, and as mayor I want to ensure our city is seen as a positive example of a city in transition.”
Alderman Devenney, Deputy Mayor, said: “I was excited to take part in this cross-cultural discussion. For example, from a session on sharing success stories, I gave the example of how the Apprentice Boys and Loyal Orders — of which I am a proud member of — have demonstrated positive community relations through constructive dialogue.
Councillor McLaughlin said: “I discovered that like Derry, other divided cities at the conference have developed ‘master plans’ to improve social and economic regeneration. An international forum could provide an ideal environment to share experiences and ensure best practices. For me, this would include making sure that communities move beyond passive consultees to active participants.”
The two community representatives, Michael Doherty and Brian Dougherty concluded: “The positive role played by the community in helping build the peace was a feature that other cities admired and some asked us to be partners for future collaboration.”
Speaking afterwards, the three Derry City councillors said, “All of us recognise the benefits sharing international experiences, and particularly through our local education institutions. We are committed to pursue the potential of enhancing this work, including the possibility of hosting a future forum conference, with the right partners, in our city.”
The conference, “Divided Cities: Common and Uncommon”, was convened by Padraig O’Malley, the John Joseph Moakley Distinguished Professor of Peace and Reconciliation at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies.
After introductory plenary sessions, the agenda for the remainder of the conference was led and determined by the conference delegates themselves. The conference ended with a public panel discussion on Thursday, 16 April, at the UMass Boston.
The conference was created through a partnership with the American Ireland Fund, with sponsorship from Robert and JoAnn Bendetson, the Connors Family Fund, the Doubletree Hotel Bayside, the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, the John Joseph Moakley Archive and Institute at Suffolk University, Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass Boston, the University of Massachusetts system, the University of Massachusetts Boston, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and William Monroe Trotter Institute at UMass Boston.