Peace professor: What keeps people apart are barriers ‘created mostly by their governments’ (WBUR)

Peace professor: What keeps people apart are barriers ‘created mostly by their governments’
http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2011/06/17/ireland-ethnic-omalley
Here And Now (WBUR)
17 June 2011 

Here And Now Guest: Padraig O’Malley, professor of international peace and reconciliation at the University of Massachusetts:

The city of Derry, once a flash point during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, was the setting for the latest meeting of the Forum for Cities in Transition.

Participants from other divided cities around the world attended the conference as part of a long process to bridge ethnic gaps.

UMASS International relations professor Padraig O’Malley told Here & Now‘s Monica Brady-Myerov that “what keeps people apart is not people, it’s artificial barriers created mostly by their governments.”

 

Making a film about a man who makes peace (Boston Globe)

Making a film about a man who makes peace
http://articles.boston.com/2011-05-22/ae/29572055_1_northern-ireland-document…
Loren King (Boston Globe)
22 May 2011

Boston filmmaker Jim Demo is in Northern Ireland, continuing production on his documentary “The Peacemaker.’’

It’s about Dublin-born, Cambridge-based Padraig O’Malley, professor of international peace and reconciliation at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Demo will film the second annual Forum for Cities in Transition conference in Derry/Londonderry this week with delegates from four continents and 12 divided cities. Launched by O’Malley, the inaugural conference was held at UMass Boston in April 2009.

Demo describes his documentary as a portrait of O’Malley’s life, work, and philosophy. He says the project began in an unlikely, though some might say perfect, spot: the Plough and Stars pub, in Cambridge, the local watering hole that O’Malley has owned since the 1970s. “I thought it was just a fish tale at the bar. But as I researched him, I discovered he was involved in high-level peace processes in Iraq, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and other war-torn regions,’’ says Demo, a former lawyer who formed Central Square Films in 2006. His first film was the 2009 comic short “First Time Long Time,’’ starring John Savage, Amanda Plummer, and Karen Black.

A wreath laid in Iraq (Boston Globe)

20090715 Wreath Iraq

A wreath laid in Iraq
http://www.boston.com/news/world/worldly_boston/2009/07/a_wreath_laid_in_iraq…
Farah Stockman (Boston Globe)
15 July 2009

UMass Boston professor Padraig O’Malley laid a wreath today at the site of a bombing in Iraq that killed at least 72 people last month which appeared to be aimed at fomenting ethnic tensions in the volatile Kirkuk region.

Kirkuk is one of five “divided” cities participating in a peace forum established in Boston by O’Malley this past April. Elected representatives from Kirkuk visited Massachusetts this past April to learn about how Boston had overcome violence and division during the busing crisis of the 1970s.

The group toured Boston neighborhoods that had been impacted by violence, led by Robert Lewis Jr., the Boston Foundation’s vice president, whose home was fire-bombed in 1976, presumably because his family were the first blacks to move into a white housing project in Maverick.

Other participants included representatives from Mitrovica, a city divided between Kosovo and Serbia; Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, claimed by both Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities; and Derry/Londonderry and Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

After the meeting in Boston, the group pledged to meet annually and share experiences.

O’Malley traveled to Kirkuk after a series of deadly bombings to read a letter of condolence to Kirkuk’s Provincial Council from the group.

“When one of you dies, all of us die a little, too,” he said. “We stand with you in resolute solidarity.”

Divided Cities (Chicago Public Radio)

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.

Nicosia ready to develop cities forum

Nicosia ready to develop cities forum
by Forum for Cities in Transition
20 April 2009

A delegation of senior councillors and community organisations from both the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities have taken part in a high level forum of cities in transition, in Boston, USA, from Tuesday, 14th to Thursday, 16th April.

Eleni Mavrou, Mayor of Nicosia, Councillor Soula Kolakidou, and former Mayor Lellos Demetriades, were joined by representatives of the Turkish-Cypriot community, Tolga Cagakan and Mustafa Akinci. Marios Michaelides, from the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration, was also part of the Nicosia delegation.

In all, 36 mayors, ministers, councillors, officials and non-governmental organisations from the cities of Derry/Londonderry (Northern Ireland), Nicosia (Cyprus), Mitrovica (Serbia/Kosovo) and Kirkuk (Iraq/Kurdistan) debated for three days the complex challenges that each divided cities have.

Mayor Mavrou said, “We were humbled by some of the stories we heard from the other cities and heartened by the spirit of resilience we observed.

“Even though the situation, the context, and the circumstances in each city are very different, I see significant opportunities for learning, for the benefit of all the citizens of our respective cities.

“As mayor I want to ensure our city is seen as a positive example of a city in transition, and I believe this newly established forum will contribute to this.”

Councillor Soula Kolakidou added, “Like Mayor Mavrou, attending this conference was a great experience. I appreciated how other cities are dealing with conflicts that are still very much alive today, where memories are painful and quite recent.

“From what I learned from the conference, from listening and sharing experiences with others, there were some simple and practical ideas that I would like us to consider applying in our own city.”

Marios Michaelides, whose has done much bi-communal work in Cyprus for over 15 years, said, “At this conference, the fact that we worked with local representatives from both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities was particularly empowering.

“I always enjoy working with Turkish-Cypriot friends on meaningful and energising projects, and this initiative should prove especially rewarding.”

Speaking afterwards, Mayor Mavrou and Councillor Kolakidou said, “We recognise the benefits sharing experiences and exchanging best practices, between our communities in Cyprus and among other cities in transition.

“We are committed to participating in future projects, through an established forum. We would like to explore the possibility of hosting a future forum conference, with the right partners, in our city.”

ENDS

NOTES

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.

Derry-Londonderry ready to develop cities forum

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.”

ENDS

NOTES

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.

Foreign visitors seek lessons from Boston’s divided past (Boston Globe)

20090417 Boston Globe
Mark Hamilton, a Belfast officer, said Boston’s busing story resonated because he had dealt with a situation in which students were attacked.

Foreign visitors seek lessons from Boston’s divided past
http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2009/04/17/foreign_visit…
17 April 2009
James Smith (Boston Globe)

Robert Lewis Jr., who lived through Boston’s court-ordered school busing as a black student at East Boston High School in the mid-1970s, had no trouble summoning memories of those tumultuous days for a busload of out-of-town visitors.

“Picture it the way it was then,” he said the other day, as the bus pulled up in front of South Boston High School, where black students were first bused in from Roxbury in September 1974. “Folks are coming and tipping the buses. The street is filled with police.”

And when the tour reached the new sports fields at Charlestown High School, Lewis, now an executive at the Boston Foundation, drew a lesson of hope from the ethnic mix of athletes playing there. “See that diversity that’s on that field? That could never have happened before busing.”

Lewis’s audience on the unusual tour had no difficulty conjuring images of strife of the streets, for these visitors had come from divided cities across the globe, places where physical or psychological barriers have kept or still keep people of different backgrounds ruthlessly apart.

They were here at the invitation of Padraig O’Malley, a lanky Irishman, professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and specialist in mediation with a track record of peacemaking from South Africa to Iraq. He created the “Forum for Cities in Transition” to let rivals from five divided communities meet in a neutral, unthreatening setting, and let them learn from others who are confronting similar tensions. The three-day gathering ended yesterday. He wants it to be an annual forum for officials from the five cities.

The 30 delegates came from Belfast and Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland; Nicosia in Cyprus; Mitrovica in Kosovo; Kirkuk in Iraq. The tour of landmarks in Boston’s years of court-ordered integration was O’Malley’s way of giving the visiting officials a glimpse of the city’s steps toward reconciliation, as well as the continuing fallout from mistakes and lost opportunities.

At a panel discussion at UMass before the bus tour, some of the key players from the busing era spelled out how high the costs became for blacks and whites alike, and how, in the midst of crisis, opportunities for creative solutions are often sadly missed.

Hubie Jones, a lifelong civil rights campaigner and educator, said the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, despite a pledge not to allow its schools to become a haven for fleeing whites, expanded significantly. “The irony is that segregation saved the Catholic school system,” he said.

What was missed was a chance to envision a broader solution to the school desegregation issue that could have made suburban school systems part of the remedy. “We had one fleeting moment to think about metropolitan education, to bring suburbs into the mix to solve the segregation problem,” Jones said. “This program has never been creatively used to go to the next step.”

Al Holland, a black teacher at South Boston High at the time, said the greatest disappointment was that “adults – the political leadership in Boston – never stood up and said ‘we have to make this work for the safety of our youngsters.’ Both black kids and white kids were used as pawns.”

The visiting foreign officials found the lessons to be provocative, if not always directly relevant.

Mark Hamilton, a police officer in Belfast, said the busing story resonated because he had dealt with a situation in 2001 in which children were attacked while trying to go to school. The incident “has had an untold influence upon community relations, which went beyond the children,” he said. “Involving children always increases the emotions and has the potential for long-range damage to communities.”

A Serbian from Mitrovica, Momcilo Arlov, noted a distinction between Boston and his home: the United States has a single Constitution that is the ultimate arbiter and that all sides respect. For divided cities elsewhere, national loyalties are often split – in his city’s case between Kosovar Serbs and Kosovar Albanians, and there’s no shared mandate.

But he said the forum had achieved one breakthrough: the participants from Mitrovica had needed to travel 7,000 miles to be able to speak with one another freely about municipal services. A river splits the Serb and Albanian sections of the city of 85,000, and few people ever cross the single bridge.

“This was really a key opportunity for us to meet in a relaxed setting, and to deal with the technical issues that are about improving everyday life,” Arlov said.

A Kurdish delegate from Kirkuk, Awad Mohamed Ameen, said the discussions among Kurds and Arabs from Kirkuk had achieved “a sort of psychological diminishing of our differences. And there is a qualitative change in our attitude when we see how Boston has confronted these issues and when we see in practice how democracy works in a modern society.”