Two clerics are part of an Irish delegation which travelled to Colombia last week to share the experience of the Northern Ireland peace process.
Methodist Rev. Harold Good and Redemptorist Fr Michael Kelleher were in Colombia to speak with the Government and FARC members who have turned themselves in to reincorporation zones as part of a disarmament process that will allow the former guerrilla group to establish a political party.
Speaking to El Espectador Rev. Good, who oversaw the IRA’s decommissioning of its weapons in 2005 with the late Fr Alec Reid, said “overcoming mistrust” through a “process of dialogue” was the main lesson that Colombia could learn from Northern Ireland.
Fr Kelleher agreed that trust was very important and that the current problems in the Colombian process may be “to do with the perception of time” or unrealistic timelines.
On an official visit to Colombia this week President Michael D. Higgins acknowledged the work of “many groups and individuals” who have travelled between Colombia and Ireland in recent months to “discuss lessons and parallels from our respective journeys”, saying Ireland “can make a contribution by making available our own experience of peacebuilding over the last 20 years and more”.