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Young people celebrate joining International Cities of Peace Network

21 September 2023

Hundreds of young people from schools across Derry and Strabane came together today at the historic Guildhall to mark the City and District’s new status as a member of the International Cities of Peace Network.

Derry will join communities across the world in making a commitment to peace building, and today, on the United Nations International Day of Peace, Mayor Patricia Logue signed the official declaration on behalf of the people of the City and District. She was joined by Reverend David Latimer, who first brought the proposal to the Mayor, and J. Frederick Arment, founder of the network, who travelled from the US for the event.

Messages of hope and solidarity were broadcast from around the world including a message from the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth.

A specially commissioned Terrestrial Globe sculpture was unveiled marking the occasion, designed and produced by GES Campsie.

Speaking at the event, Mayor Logue said the designation represented Derry and Strabane’s commitment to a peaceful future for all its citizens. She told those gathered: “This is another important milestone in our journey towards securing lasting peace and a better future for everyone.

“It’s particularly fitting that this event takes place on the UN’s International Day of Peace, and also during Good Relations Week, a time to celebrate peace-building and cultural diversity across all communities. This year the theme is ‘Together’ and the importance of working together to achieve the common goals of equality, empathy and better understanding.

“By working with others from different backgrounds, but with shared hopes and ambitions, we can achieve so much more than working in isolation. This is where the true value in joining the International Cities of Peace lies.”

During the event the young people from each of the schools read statements of peace and joined together for a special choral performance of Phil Coulter’s ‘Bright Brand New Day’, led by Musical Director Maurice Kelly.

The young people also heard from Rev. David Latimer, whose ongoing work to bring communities together inspired the bid to become part of the ICP network. Rev Latimer paid tribute to the young people for doing the city proud today, saying: “This is the beginning of something, a partnership of young people across the world working creatively and imaginatively within the parameters of UN initiatives. This will open doors for the future, for the future is as Phil Coulter wrote - a Bright Brand New Day.”

ICP Chairperson, J. Frederick Arment, took to the stage to welcome the City and District to the network, and paid tribute to local young people saying they gave ‘the entire world hope’: “Derry-Londonderry and the District of Strabane stand in the historical context as an inspiring case study of how a citizenry’s deep commitment to peacebuilding, reconciliation, and forward thinking can bring hope to a world that yearns to be released from violence toward a vision of global peace,” he told those gathered.

As an International City of Peace, Derry and Strabane joins almost 400 communities spanning 73 countries and six continents, that have a strong connection to peace, and that pledge to continue to explore new ways to strengthen and develop peaceful societies.

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