Between 3rd and 8th of September 2019, DPI carried out a comparative study visit (CSV) in conjunction with The School of Religion, Trinity College Dublin and hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland. This CSV discussed for the first time the role of religious leaders in peace and reconciliation. The aim of the CSV was to bring together a group of religious figures, academics and theologians from diverse communities, ethnic and political backgrounds in order to learn about the role of religious leaders in peace process in Northern Ireland.
The first two days in Dublin included a visit to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who kindly acted as our hosts for this activity, and to Trinity College Dublin. This was followed by a three-day visit to Belfast, which allowed participants to understand the past and current situation in Northern Ireland, through their engagements with speakers and meeting with former political prisoners from all sides of the conflict. During the course of the visit, participants engaged first-hand with religious leaders and figures who were and still are involved in the peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland. The group heard invaluable accounts of their expertise and experiences of The Troubles and engaged in a rich discussion on the role individual religious leaders played before, during and after the peace process in Northern Ireland. Through these series of meetings and sessions, participants were exposed to the successes, as well as failures of religious leaders and institutions to promote peace and reconciliation. These experiences gave the group a valuable insight into the challenges and lessons learnt from Northern Ireland peace process.
The CSV was part of the project ‘Supporting inclusive dialogue at a challenging time in Turkey’, supported by the EU and the Irish, Dutch and Norwegian governments.