COMMUNITY BONDS STRENGTHENED AS BORDER YOUNGSTERS PEDAL FOR PEACE

19 August 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The glint of late evening sunshine on fast-moving chrome heralded the arrival in Monaghan Town on Tuesday of a party of young cyclists drawn from communities on both sides of the Border coming to the conclusion of the latest leg of a progressive “Peace Through Exercise” project.

The youngsters and their supporting party were arriving at the Monaghan Leisure Centre on the Clones Road where they were honoured guests at a joint civic reception hosted by Monaghan Town and Monaghan Co Councils.
The Peace Cycle was the latest manifestation of the ‘Youth for Peace – Moving Forward Together’ initiative undertaken by Youth Work Ireland, the Dee Street Community Centre in East Belfast and the Clones Erne East Partnership, the primary purpose of which was described by its organisers as “to foster positive relations between the Catholic and Protestant communities in, and between, our areas in order to further the achievement of lasting peace between our communities.”
According to Youth for Peace Project Co-ordinator Adrienne Mongey, the Peace Cycle set its young participants the goal of enhancing their understanding of the barriers to peace and reconciliation, and acknowledging some of the significant events of the past as they looked at moving forward together.
And there was plenty of evidence of community bonds being strengthened and lasting friendships forged from the easy camaraderie that prevailed among the group as they partook of refreshments in the Leisure Centre’s Studio Room and recovered from the exertions of that day’s 25-mile trip, for the concluding stages of which they were joined by keen local cyclist Sean Conlon, Sinn Féin representative on the county and town local authorities. Also present at the reception were Colrs Robbie Gallagher and Seamus Treanor.
Monaghan Co Council Director of Services Paul Clifford welcomed the Peace Cycle party to the Monaghan Leisure Centre reception and his comments of greeting were endorsed by the Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Town Council David Maxwell, who praised the cyclists for their “cross-community endeavour”, describing this as the way forward in building better relationships between different communities north and south.
Co Mayor Seamus Coyle joined in the extension of what he described as “a very genuine cead mile fáilte” to the cross-Border group, and congratulated the young people from Belfast, Antrim, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Leitrim who were taking part in the venture.
Mayor Coyle said they had now built a permanent peace in Ulster and Ireland, and it was very important that they brought the more enjoyable elements of that to the fore, which was what he believed the group was doing through their cycle.
The Mayor praised the organisers of the event, and North Monaghan public representative Sean Conlon for joining the cyclists for part of their trip earlier in the day, and extended the hope for the participants that they built long and lasting friendships with each other. “Well done to everyone and congratulations,” he concluded.
Mary Lynch of Youth Work Ireland, who noted that the cyclists had received the best turn out of local councillors in Monaghan of any of the places they had yet visited, told the gathering that the Youth for Peace – Moving Forward Together Project began in 2008 and involved her own organisation, Clones Erne East Partnership and the Dee Street Community Centre in East Belfast.
Full report in The Northern Standard

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