Peace partnership centre agreed between Maynooth and Kenya

Shalom centre for reconciliation set up by award-winning Irish priest in 2009

Fr Patrick Devine with executive director of the Kennedy Institute  Peter Cassells.

Fr Patrick Devine with executive director of the Kennedy Institute Peter Cassells.

Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 19:09

The Edward M Kennedy Institute in Maynooth has agreed a partnership with the Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) in Kenya to help foster conflict resolution in Africa.

Based at NUI Maynooth, funded by the university and the Government, the Institute was set up on 2012 to honour the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s lifelong commitment to justice, equality, human rights, education for all and environmental protection, and in particular for his contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process.

The SCCRR assists with conflict resolution and reconciliation processes in troubled parts of Eastern Africa. It was established in 2009 by Fr Patrick Devine from Frenchpark Co Roscommon, who has spent over 20 years in Eastern Africa.

A Society of African Missions priest, he was presented with the 2013 International Caring Award in Washington DC last October by former US secretary of state Colin Powell. Previous recipients included the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Senator George Mitchell, and former US president, Jimmy Carter.

The SCCRR examines the root causes of conflict using inter-ethnic education, peace-building skills and problem solving workshops. It also constructs inter-ethnic schools that allow people from opposing groups to study together.

Executive director of the Kennedy Institute, and former ICTU general secretary, Peter Cassells said “this long-term partnership and collaboration will create richer educational opportunities, including exchanges, for our students and those delivering our programmes.

It will enhance our ability to undertake and share in-depth research into the root causes of conflict. It will also enable us to support vulnerable communities to build their capacity for conflict transformation.”

Fr Devine said “Ireland must take a greater interest in Africa in the coming years. In a globalised world Africa is the last remaining continent with significant national resources. I have no doubt that the extraction of these mineral and other resources will give rise to serious conflicts over ownership and the sharing of wealth.”

He continued “it will be very difficult to have sustained development in these conflict environments where people are killed, maimed and displaced and where schools, hospitals and businesses become inoperable on a regular basis.

“ It is important , therefore, that the Irish Government support the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa, the Shalom Centre and the Kennedy Institute to build capacity for conflict resolution in these regions”