President launches peace centre

March 15, 1996

A centre for the international study of forgiveness and reconciliation was opened at Coventry University this week with an inaugural address by its patron, the Irish President, Mary Robinson.

President Robinson's visit to Coventry, during a three-day tour of northern British cities with strong Irish links, comes just weeks after the resumption of IRA violence. But the role Coventry can play as a forum for debate about peace was a theme the Irish president returned to in her lecture at the city's cathedral.

The centre is a joint venture with the cathedral - internationally noted for its work in rebuilding relations, particularly with Berlin and Dresden following wartime bombing - and the International Minds Forum, a think-tank on the culture and psychology of international and diplomatic affairs.

President Robinson said: "On a recent visit [to Northern Ireland], days after the Canary Wharf bombing, I was struck by the depth of the people's determination, insisting that peace must be maintained, and differences, however intractable, must be resolved by discussions and negotiation. More than once I heard the words 'never again'."

Michael Goldsmith, university vice chancellor, said: "The centre will provide an academic background to inform, educate and influence well-founded debate. It will be a means, but not an end."

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