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Mary Robinson to celebrate Corrymeela's 50th birthday

Former President Mary Robinson, who will be attending a gala to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Corrymeela community
Marie Louise McConville

Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organisation is to celebrate a half century of work with a gala event at Belfast city hall.

Former President Mary Robinson will be guest of honour to mark Corrymeela's 50th birthday.

Also attending will be Kathleen Kuehnast, a director at the US Institute of Peace, and Belfast-born poet Michael Longley.

Founded by Ray Davey and students from Queen's University in 1965, the Corrymeela community predated the Troubles but quickly found its work shaped by it.

It works alongside people from youth and school groups, family and community organisations, faith communities and political parties and runs group sessions using dialogue, art and storytelling o help people embrace difference and learn how to have difficult conversations.

Its staff and volunteers work with more than 10,000 people a year at its residential centre in Ballycastle, and in schools and communities throughout Northern Ireland.

Pádraig Ó Tuama, Corrymeela community leader, said: "As we look forward to our next 50 years it is a privilege to have the art of poetry and the analysis of gender and power at the heart of our vision for continuing the work of peace in Northern Ireland and beyond."

Colin Craig, Corrymeela executive director, said the organisation was honoured to have Mary Robinson take part.

"She brings a wealth of experience from the world of politics and human rights and has always been supportive of our work," he said.

"We are particularly excited to hear about her groundbreaking work in the field of climate justice and the struggle to protect those most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming".

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby, will also celebrate Corrymeela's milestone at a service in St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on Sunday, joined by other Church leaders including Catholic Primate Eamon Martin and Methodist President Brian Anderson.

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