Co-operation Ireland’s arts event a major step on road to reconciliation

The historic first meeting between Her Majesty The Queen, President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA took place on 27 June 2012 at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

Following a private meeting, Co-operation Ireland’s Joint Patrons Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh, the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, Mrs Sabina Higgins and the First and deputy First Minister met with the assembled 50 Co-operation Ireland guests in the Naughton Suite. These included poet Michael Longley CBE, pianist Barry Douglas, singer Brian Kennedy and actors Adrian Dunbar and Conleth Hill. Community arts groups were represented by the Nerve Centre and Playhouse Theatre in Derry, Best Cellars in Dundonald, the Cross-Border Orchestra, Belfast Exposed and the Creativity Hub amongst others.

The dignitaries also had the opportunity to talk to artist Colin Davidson about his paintings displayed in the Lyric, as well as talk to some of those portrayed - Michael Longley and Barry Douglas.

Co-operation Ireland, who hosted the landmark occasion, has as its Joint Patrons Her Majesty The Queen and President of Ireland. The organisation had previously facilitated the first meeting between Her Majesty and the then President of Ireland Mary McAleese in Crosby Hall London in 2005 and then followed this up with a meeting in Hillsborough Castle to mark the 30th anniversary of the charity in May 2009. This event marks another significant event in Co-operation Ireland’s history.

Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive Co-operation Ireland said,
“Today is, in the words of Seamus Heaney, a day in which hope and history rhyme. It is a significant milestone on the road to reconciliation on this island and between our two islands. In a very relaxed atmosphere what struck me was the ordinariness of the handshake by people who are in no way ordinary”.

“The event itself highlighted the importance of the arts and it acknowledged those people who play a pivotal role in ensuring the arts are enjoyed by all in our society”.

Read articles on the event:

Article by board member Trevor Ringland in The Scotsman