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Bloody Sunday Trust to host major transitional justice conference next month

27 May 2022

Derry will be the venue for a prestigious international conference, next month, that will bring museum and heritage professionals and human rights activists from across Europe to the city for the European Regional Meeting of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience network. 
  
The 2022 meeting will take place over three days, from June 14th to June 16th. It will be hosted by the Museum of Free Derry in partnership with other members from the North of Ireland: National Museums NI, Healing Through Remembering and Diversity Challenges. 
  
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience – Europe (ICSC-Europe) was established in 2015 following more than eight years’ operating as one of six regional networks of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, the only global network of historic sites, museums and memory initiatives dedicated to remembering past struggles and addressing their contemporary legacies. 
  
Today, ICSC-Europe represents a network of 46 museums, historic sites and memory organisations in 21 countries that works to transform, expand and activate historic museums as agents of social change in Europe. Members include, among others, the Monte Sole Peace School from Italy, Le Bois du Cazier in Belgium, the Oskar Schindler Factory Museum in Poland, the Gernika Gogoratuz Peace Research Centre in Spain, Our Lord in the Attic Museum in Amsterdam, the War Childhood Museum in Bosnia and Maidan Museum in Ukraine. 
  
The Sites of Conscience visit is taking place during the 50th anniversary year of Bloody Sunday. The three-day conference is timed to coincide with the date on which the report of the second Bloody Sunday Inquiry was released; the report led to a formal British government apology for the “unjustified and unjustifiable” events of January 30th, 1972. 
  
The network’s Regional Program Manager, Justine Di Mayo, says June’s meeting will offer an opportunity for European Sites of Conscience to come together, celebrate and participate in some of the activities organised by the Bloody Sunday Trust and Museum of Free Derry to commemorate and reflect on these important anniversary dates. 
 
“Over a period of three days,” she says, “we will work to identify, share and exchange challenges, lessons learned, and good practices in supporting truth seeking and accountability processes, fostering more inclusive historical narratives, and using dialogue to heal divisions and promote understanding, self-reflection and reconciliation.” 
  
ICSC-Europe works with its members to use the lens of memory to inform and fortify civic action that challenges intolerance and violence in Europe. It believes museums and historic sites are exceptionally suited for fostering dialogue, catalysing civic engagement and bringing about social change. 
  
Drawing from the fields of art, public history, heritage, human rights and education, Sites of Conscience brings together different groups and communities as centres for artistic experimentation, collaboration and community-building. It uses dialogue as “a methodology and interpretive strategy to enable the public to make the connection between past and present, and memory to action.” 
  
Maeve McLaughlin, Director, Bloody Sunday Trust, said next month’s conference was a huge honour for the city and a significant endorsement of the Trust’s approach to resolving conflict in Ireland and beyond. 
  
“The Bloody Sunday Trust and Museum of Free Derry have addressed many of the difficult issues which remain unresolved elsewhere in the North. We have sought to be inclusive and respectful, to listen and learn, to engage and debate. Our methodology has been recognised as a model of best practice in conflict transformation. We welcome this opportunity to share our experience with our European friends and hope to learn from them how we can improve upon the model we have devised for promoting dialogue and reconciliation.” 
  
The Sites of Conscience delegates will be in Derry from 13th-17th June. Their annual conference will take place in the Playhouse and the Guildhall from 14th-16th June.