Lessons learned from the Troubles can help fight global extremism, says President Higgins
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Lessons learned from the Troubles can help fight global extremism, says President Higgins

President Higgins speaking at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace Centre in Warrington

GOVERNMENTS battling modern day extremism around the world can learn lessons from the Troubles, according to Irish President Michael D Higgins.

President Higgins said that although the contexts of conflict may differ, similar tactics can be implemented in order to achieve peace.

During a visit yesterday (July 22) to the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace Centre in Warrington the Irish head of state spoke about the challenges faced during the peace process.

“There are times when the peace process will break down, when there appear to be irreconcilable differences," he said.

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“I think it was very important in the Irish case that you had a Secretariat that stayed in existence and kept producing text, when you couldn’t get an agreed text between the parties.”

President Higgins continued by drawing comparisons between the Troubles and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

He said the lack of a permanent domestic authority is a key factor in failing to achieve peace there.

“After spending a lot of time on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, one of the great deficiencies of the progress within the region was the absence of a permanent Secretariat,” he said.

“Rather what would happen is that you would get external intervention from abroad. The hopes from that would fade and then you were gone for another three or four years.

“What was needed was sustained engagement.”

President Higgins addressed over 80 guests at the peace centre, which was founded by Colin and Wendy Parry, the parents of 12-year-old Tim Parry, who was  killed alongside Johnathan Ball, 3, in an IRA bomb attack on March 20, 1993.

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The President said social isolation is one of the root causes to “inviting” people to turn to extremism.

“We know that those who are disenfranchised economically are vulnerable to the predations of the sponsors of extremism,” he said.

President Higgins outlined youth unemployment and inadequate social infrastructure as issues that need to be tackled to avoid excluding people from society.

President Higgins’ visit to Warrington was his first official visit to the town.

He also travelled to to Liverpool, which he last visited in 2012, to receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Liverpool where he delivered a speech at a graduation ceremony in the university’s Philharmonic Hall.

The visit was rounded off with a celebrator dinner for honorary graduates, which was also attended by dignitaries and members of Liverpool’s Irish community.