Franco-German reconciliation as inspiration for the peace process in Ireland?
The German Embassy Dublin organised a series of well-attended and high-level events to mark this year’s Day of National Mourning. The aim of the accompanying seminars and panel discussions was to place remembrance of the war dead in a contemporary context and to underline the nature of the European Union as a highly successful project for peace. The Embassy had the opportunity to work closely with the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation and the Lutheran Church in Ireland.
A seminar called “Just Peace and Just War in Modern Times ”was held on 18 November. Around 40 people attended the event. The keynote speaker, Dr Sigurd Rink, a Protestant military bishop who travelled from Germany for the seminar, ran reconciliation projects with Pax Christi in Northern Ireland from 1979 to 1983. Taking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as his starting point, he spoke about the Lutheran view of current war and reconciliation challenges. Enlarge image (© Deutsche Botschaft Dublin) The highlight was a panel discussion called “Reconciliation in modern times – what can we learn from the past?” on 19 November, which was attended by some 75 people. Chaired by Barbara Walshe, Chair of the Board of the Glencree Centre, the panel brought together speakers from civil society, politics, religion and the military. As a special symbol of the close political cooperation between France and Germany, both the Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy, Josef Reichhardt, and his French counterpart, Lionel Paradisi-Coulouma, took part in the event. Further participants included the Protestant military bishop Dr Rink, Irish Major General Cotter, Colonel (General Staff) Rütten from London and Irish peace activist Ken Newell. The discussion focused on the participants’ personal experience of reconciliation processes. Comparisons between Franco-German reconciliation and the peace process in Ireland were repeatedly made. The Irish audience found youth exchange and the establishment of joint supranational institutions to be particularly good examples. After the discussion, up to 200 people attended the ecumenical memorial service, the wreath-laying ceremony at the military cemetery and a reception.