Professor Padraig O’Malley is interviewed by Chicago Public Radio for Worldview programme: “Divided Cities”
What happens when you bring government officials from cities divided along ethnic and political lines together in one room? Arguments? Perhaps an outbreak of violence? According to veteran peace negotiator Padraig O’Malley, you get exactly the opposite.
After years of subtle and, at times, not so subtle prodding, he convinced Protestant and Catholic leaders from Northern Ireland to meet with their South African counterparts. He says the parallels the groups drew helped create the foundation for future discussions among the Northern Irish that eventually produced the Good Friday peace agreement.
O’Malley decided if he did it with the South Africans and the Northern Irish, why not do it with other divided societies? Thus, the “Divided Cities” conference was born. O’Malley is currently a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Earlier this month, his university sponsored a symposium of leaders from Kirkuk, Iraq; Nicosia, Cyprus; Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland and Mitroveca, Kosovo, all cities with deep-seeded ethnic disputes and in various stages of conflict resolution.