PSI Team Visits Belfast, Northern Ireland
During the week of September 21 – 28, 2005 a PSI team visited Belfast, Northern Ireland at the invitation of Barnardo’s, a charitable organization working with children and their families in the community – giving them practical and emotional support to deal with disadvantage.
On September 26, 2005, the headlines of the Belfast Telegram read: “IRA disarms.” The article began,
“History was being made today as the International Decommissioning body confirmed that the Provisional IRA has put its arsenal beyond use. General John de Chastelain and his two fellow commissioners were briefing the British and Irish governments this morning ahead of publicly announcing this afternoon that the IRA has disarmed.”
On this same day, at the invitation of Barnardo’s, Paula George, guidance counselor at Leary’s Brook Junior High in St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador; Heather Harris, principal at Kingston School, Nova Scotia; Dr. John LeBlanc, researcher at Dalhousie University; Hetty van Gurp, founder of Peaceful Schools International and her husband, Ward Carson – the PSI team, was making presentations to teachers and principals from Belfast schools at Belfast Castle. General de Chastelain, a member of the International Advisory Board of PSI unfortunately could not be in attendance as he was otherwise engaged. His message is below.
It seems more than just a coincidence that all of this was happening at the same time. Besieged by decades of sectarian division and violence, it may be that Northern Ireland is at a critical juncture in its history and that the time has come when people on both sides of the divide, are ready for peace.
In addition to the presentations made on this day, we also had an opportunity to visit the three PSI member schools in Belfast: Edenbrooke Primary School, St. Gabriel’s College and Brownlow Integrated College in Craigavon. In each of these schools, it was evident to all of us that the principles and practices of PSI have contributed significantly to creating a positive ethos.
Head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in Northern Ireland
PEACEFUL SCHOOLS SEMINAR 22 SEPTEMBER 2005
BELFAST – NOTES BY JOHN DE CHASTELAIN
I would start by saying how I much regret I am not here to deliver this brief message in person. Some months ago I promised Hetty I would do all I could to take part in this important Seminar, although I had to add the caveat that the role which brings me to Ireland might force me to withdraw at the last moment. Sadly for me that is now the case.
Continue reading “Message from General John de Chastelain (ret’d)”