The ‘long and winding road’

The ‘long and winding road’ towards peace in Ireland still has a few steps to go, but part of the path to a better future for ourselves is found not only in developing new ways of working at home, but in sharing our journey with others elsewhere whose communities have also been trapped in violent political conflict.

We have discovered that in assisting others to develop new agreed structures of democracy we are helped to overcome some of the final hurdles on our own path.

The new Centre for Democracy and Peace Building brings together some of the politicians who were intimately involved in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement with colleagues who have worked for many years on grass-roots peace-building in Northern Ireland’s divided communities.

The Centre’s leadership has accumulated many years of political understanding and practical experience and has provided on-the-ground help with research, training, institutional development and routes out of violence in many parts of the world.

What insights guide the work of the Centre?

  • Political violence comes out of a history of long-standing disturbed communal relationships, and dealing with those relationships is central to peace building.
  • A resolution is not the result of a political fix, but of a process of change and development involving the key stakeholders.
  • Those from communities that have experienced political violence have an instinctive appreciation of the challenges faced by others in such situations, even where there are profound differences of history, economics, culture and politics.