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International conference in Dublin to examine lessons of Troubles

Category: Northern Ireland

Published: 27th Apr 2012 06:06:28

Representatives of more than 40 countries will gather in Dublin later for a high-profile conference examining the lessons of Northern Ireland for resolving conflicts.

The conference is being hosted by the Irish government, as part of its chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 there has been great international interest in whether any of the lessons of the Northern Ireland peace process can be applied elsewhere.

Stormont politicians have travelled to places like Spain's Basque region, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines to share their insights, whilst a steady stream of foreign delegations have passed through Belfast.

Four years ago, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness visited Baghdad as part of a bid to reconcile warring Iraqi factions.

Mr McGuinness will attend Friday's conference in Dublin along with First Minister Peter Robinson.

Delegates will also hear from former US Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the Good Friday Agreement talks and served as President Obama's Middle East peace envoy.

Other speakers include Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, the Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, the Stormont Justice Minister David Ford and security chiefs from both sides of the border.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the conference, Mr Gilmore acknowledged all conflicts were different.

However, he told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme on Sunday that examining the Northern Ireland peace process could be valuable.

"What we want to do is, basically, for the people who are involved in those conflicts and the people who live in those areas, to get an understanding of what happened in Northern Ireland," he said.

"We're not trying to say that there were direct lessons or direct comparisons that can be made, but simply to hear the story of how the Northern Ireland peace process came about."

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