‘Derry Model’ may be used in conflict resolution

Bloody Sunday Trust awarded €500,000 to consider if model can be applied across North

The Derry Model is based on an agreement reached over local parades in the 1990s, which successfully brought together  the Apprentice Boys of Derry, local residents and business representatives, and put an end to the unrest over parades.  Photograph:  Frank Miller

The Derry Model is based on an agreement reached over local parades in the 1990s, which successfully brought together the Apprentice Boys of Derry, local residents and business representatives, and put an end to the unrest over parades. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

They’ve been negotiating for more than a year without a breakthrough, but now politicians seeking to restore powersharing in the North could have some help from the city of Derry.

Bogside-based organisation the Bloody Sunday Trust has been awarded more than €500,000 by the EU’s Peace IV programme to explore whether the so-called “Derry Model” can be applied elsewhere.

The four-year project, launched on Monday, will consider lessons learned in the city in terms of conflict transformation and peacebuilding.

The name comes from agreement reached over local parades in the 1990s, which successfully brought together the loyal order of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, local residents and representatives from the business community.

The problem was the police policed, the marchers marched and the rioters rioted, then everyone went home and we had to deal with the mess afterwards

Project manager Maeve McLaughlin, a former Sinn Féin MLA, will examine the Derry Model and other landmarks in the city’s post-conflict transformation – such as the then British prime minister David Cameron’s 2010 apology for Bloody Sunday – to determine if general principles can be established around the areas of parading, justice and legacy, heritage and education and dialogue.

As part of this, more than 600 representatives from groups all over Ireland and the UK will visit the city to learn first-hand the lessons of the model.

“The idea is that Derry has played a leadership role in conflict transformation, but the lessons have never been fully cascaded down,” said Ms McLaughlin.

Widespread rioting

In the mid-90s, tensions around the Apprentice Boys’ parades through Derry in August and December, exacerbated by the standoff at Drumcree in Portadown, had led to widespread rioting in the city centre.

“The citizens of Derry were hurting,” said businessman and negotiator Garvan O’Doherty. “The problem was the police policed, the marchers marched and the rioters rioted, then everyone went home and we had to deal with the mess afterwards.”

Fellow businessman Brendan Duddy Jnr, who was involved in the negotiations along with his father, the late Brendan Snr, recalls bringing Eastenders stars to his family’s bar and nightclub and seeing a burning bus outside.

I think we also had more foresight than other parts of the North in that we could see over the rainbow and we could see the benefits of working together

Unknown to anyone in the city at the time, Duddy Snr was the secret intermediary in negotiations between the British government and the IRA.

“His logic very clearly at the time was that if a solution could be found to the marching in Derry then that could be taken throughout Northern Ireland,” said Duddy.

“In Derry there’s a willingness to accommodate,” said Mr O’Doherty.

“I think we also had more foresight than other parts of the North in that we could see over the rainbow and we could see the benefits of working together to get a solution, and you need the business input because business has a different set of skills that, matched with the other interests, can create a synergy there.”

Today the Apprentice Boys march an agreed route through the city centre on their main parading days in August and December; unrest is rare.

“We should never lose sight of that bottom-up approach in terms of being able to deliver results,” said Ms McLaughlin.

“In this city it did, and particularly in the absence of an Executive or any sort of legislative framework here, we need to be able to build on those bottom-up approaches to conflict transformation.”