Speaker for 12th November 2019

President John McGlade greets Christine Turner and Lisa Mooney (L), with Club Secretary Graham MacDonald (R)

Coleraine Probus see opposing sides working together

There were two speakers at a recent Probus club meeting, and the story they told had several members wondering if they were hearing correctly. Lisa Mooney, from the Building Communities Resource Centre (BCRC) in Ballymoney and Christine Turner, a participant in the planned BCRC programme, came along to talk about an extraordinary journey of change. The 'journey' involved many of the 'traditional' groups and part of the bedrock that forms and defines, our country, and the province of Northern Ireland.

Lisa, who works with community groups throughout the local council area to develop good relations and a better understanding in our post conflict ('Troubles') culture, outlined the first strand of the bigger programme - the 'Key Institutions' within the Causeway Coast and Glens wider area. Taking part where the GAA; the Ancient Order of Hibernians; the Royal British Legion; the Ulster Covenant Society; the Apprentice Boys of Derry; and 'Comhaltas' (preserving traditional Irish music). The aim was to get these and other key elements of our community to talk about what where their specific institutions all about AND LISTEN to what other institutions held as their key values. Getting such diverse groups together, and stay together, was no mean feat. But remarkably, this happened; trust was found and friendships made. This is clearly a programme that could be beneficially rolled out across Northern Ireland.

Christine participated in the programme organised by the BCRC that ran alongside the Key Institutions, and was centred around 'Civic Responsibility and Civic Courage', in our wide Council area. This culminated with members of both the programmes going, as a group of thirty delegates, who travelled earlier this year to Bosnia and Croatia to examine conflict resolution and peace building.

Christine and Lisa then presented a slide show and a short film of the overall project and trip, showing many of the people and places they visited. The group participated in workshops and other learning activities involving a visit to the Jasenovac and Gradina Death Camps. They also spoke to victims and combatants from the conflict, also visiting a Mosque, as well as Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Standing at the site of the mass graves from the 1990's was a very sobering experience.

The visit to Bosnia and Croatia was greatly facilitated by both the Irish and British Ambassadors with assistance from the U.N. Liaison Officer Lt. Col. (retired) John Hamill. The group's time in those troubled lands happened to coincided with St. Patrick's Day, where they were all invited to a embassy party, jointly hosted by the Irish and English Ambassadors, meeting the new Japanese Ambassador and being entertained by John Hamill and his guitar. The evening brought a much needed smile to everyone's faces, and the example it set, seemed so appropriate somehow!

Members wishing to take a second look at some of the photos and information from the Croatia and Bosnia trip, just 'Click' the logo below…