Newry, Mourne and Down Seniors Visit Peace Walls and Parliament Buildings
Downpatrick, Rowallane and Slieve Croob District Electoral Area (DEA) Forums organised a cross-community trip for over 100 seniors to view the Peace Walls and take a tour of Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Wednesday 20 March 2019.
The tour was organised to break down barriers and facilitate social contact for the seniors, many of whom experience social or rural isolation. Many of the area’s senior citizens have bad memories of the Troubles and it is hoped that their visit to a regenerated Belfast will demonstrate just how much Northern Ireland has progressed and the importance of being inclusive.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin who accompanied the tour said, “Six senior groups, that would never have had an opportunity to meet due to rural and social isolation, have had the opportunity get to know each other in a neutral and welcoming environment.
“The seniors found out fascinating facts about the Peace Walls and now have a better understanding about the importance and powers of devolved government. Everyone has been very positive about the changes they have witnessed in Belfast and everyone acknowledged the need to move forward together irrespective of historical differences. Friendships have been forged and it is hoped that the links established today will provide a foundation for continued contact and partnership events in the future.”
MLA Colin McGrath hosted the tour of Parliament Buildings that included the Assembly Chamber, the room in which Assembly members deliberate. Participants on the visit were given an insight into the powers that the Northern Ireland Assembly has over making laws, covering areas such as housing, employment, education, health, agriculture and the environment.
The groups were very pleased with their visit, with many of the participants reminiscing about the Troubles, and emphasising the benefits that have been brought by the Peace Process.