Derry-Londonderry group finds hope in Iraq

Derry-Londonderry group finds hope in Iraq
Forum for Cities in Transition
14 October 2012

A delegation from the Maiden City returned from a four-day visit to Kirkuk, Iraq, where they shared learning with twelve cities in transition from conflict towards a sustainable future.

The delegation from Derry-Londonderry, which hosted last year’s Forum for Cities in Transition event, included Councillor Gerard Diver, Jon Burrows, Michael Doherty, and Chris Yates.

Gerard Diver, former Mayor of Derry-Londonderry, remarked:

“This was my fourth consecutive attendance of these Forum meetings, starting with a pilot conference in Boston in 2009. The annual gatherings are excellent opportunities to learn from each other.

“We found hope and confidence among our counterparts in Kirkuk, towards building a better city with improved public services for all its citizens.”

Michael Doherty, director of the Peace and Reconciliation Group, added:

“Crucially, these annual events are followed up by specific pledges — real projects delivered in collaboration with other member cities. In the past we’ve brought police officers from Mitrovica to Derry-Londonderry, to learn how we deliver community based policing.

“Excitingly, resulting from this year’s conference in Kirkuk, we will investigate how we can host a delegation from the Kirkuk Police Service to participate in the 2013 World Police & Fire Games.”

Chris Yates, PSNI Foyle Chief Inspector, and his colleague Jon Burrows, reflected on what they saw in Kirkuk:

“During our visit in Iraq, we met with civil society leaders, and we are greatly encouraged by their work, especially considering the greater security instability that they face daily.

“It is the mixture of the need to provide security and consensual policing, with broad engagement with local communities, that provides the sound foundations for sustainable peace. Witnessing other cities pursue this approach gave us confidence that we are getting things right back home.”



The Forum for Cities in Transition is an international network of mayors, councillors, municipal officials, business people, and representatives of the voluntary and community sector.

The Forum works on the principle that cities that are in conflict or have emerged from conflict are in the best position to help other cities in the same situation.

The Forum for Cities in Transition is an initiative of the John Joseph Moakley Chair at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The Secretariat is shared by the Northern Ireland Foundation and the Moakley Chair.

The 2012 annual gathering of the Forum was held in Kirkuk, Iraq, from 7-10 October, hosted by Kirkuk Provincial Council and facilitated by INSAN Iraqi Society. The participating cities were: Beirut, Belfast, Derry-Londonderry, Kaduna, Kirkuk, Mitrovica, Mitte, Mostar, Nicosia, Ramallah and Tripoli.

Forum for Cities in Transition: Community engagement essential for policing divided cities

Forum for Cities in Transition: Community engagement essential for policing divided cities
By Forum for Cities in Transition
27 May 2010

PSNI Chief Inspector Chris Yates, Area Commander for Foyle District is participating in the Forum for Cities in Transition conference in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica this week. During the conference, Chief Inspector Yates is meeting with local police and sharing his experiences of policing in a divided city.

A delegation of Derry-Londonderry representatives are visiting Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica where they have joined eight other delegations from Beirut, Belfast, Haifa, Jerusalem, Kirkuk, Mostar and Nicosia to discuss the challenges of living and working in cities divided by conflict. They are discussing a number of issues including policing, which is a particularly challenging aspect of municipal life in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica where two police forces work in parallel on either side of this divided city.

Following a meeting with members of the local police teams, Chief Inspector Yates said: “It is important to share the lessons and progress we have made in the PSNI. This conference is a great opportunity to share our experiences of policing in Derry-Londonderry and to encourage greater collaboration and citizen engagement in other divided cities. It is a worthwhile process and a great opportunity to support divided cities from around the world as they transition to more stable and peaceful situations”.

David Hamilton, a retired PSNI officer, who now works in Kosovo as a Resident Twinning Advisor on policing, and participated in the conference, also added: “It is fantastic to see that the PSNI can help other policing units to meet the challenges of policing in divided areas. In Northern Ireland we are still undergoing a process of change and transition but we certainly have useful lessons that we can share.

“In Northern Ireland we are aware of the importance of community policing and in Kosovo this is also becoming a central element of the policing plan. It is encouraging to see the local police forces moving in this direction.

“In modern policing community contact and interaction is essential to effective policing. Any steps taken to encourage this will be welcomed not only by the international community but also by the local people themselves”.



The Forum for Cities in Transition was established in Boston in April 2010 by representatives from Kirkuk, Nicosia, Derry-Londonderry and Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica. It is an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Boston, which hosted the founding conference. The University and the Northern Ireland Foundation, Belfast, are the Secretariat.