Project Aims and Objectives
• To use the historical event of the Nationalist 16th Irish and Unionist 36th Ulster Divisions fighting side by side at the battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917 as a catalyst for creating an environment of tolerance and understanding leading to reconciliation and the acceptance of differences.
• To encourage as many individuals and organisations, especially those at the interfaces in Northern Ireland, to participate in discussions regarding the involvement of people from both communities and both parts of Ireland in the 1st World War.
• To encourage those of influence and potential leaders from both communities in Ireland to engage in the Conflict Resolution and Mediation Skills Programmes that have been developed by the International School for Peace Studies in Messines.
• To engage those leaders and young people in the design of Conflict Resolution and Mediation Skills educational programmes and to encourage them to embrace the ISPS principal of resolving differences through dialog and reject all forms of violence as a means of creating change.
• To be a neutral facility for peace and political dialogue for communities throughout the world that have been effected by conflict.
• To encourage cultural developments which support peace activities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
• To be a location for people from all over the world to visit, study and stay whilst participating in programmes and events organised by the International School for Peace Studies.
The Wall Mural Project
Other programmes included the painting of gable wall murals in Messines depicting scenes relevant to the 1st World War, especially the Messines story which can then be replicated on walls in both communities in N. Ireland and the Republic. The first of these was the Battlefield scene of the Unionist John Meeke MM of the 36th Ulster Division treating the wounds of the Nationalist Major Willie Redmond MP of the 16th Irish Division on the 7th June 1917. It was unveiled in the Peace School on the 7th June 2007 by members of the Meeke and Redmond families.
Furthermore, it is proposed to organise a project for young people from both traditions within Northern Ireland and from the Republic who will paint Murals on the gable walls in the town of Messines commemorating the battle of Messines Ridge where Nationalists and Unionists fought and died together. The Stad Mesen have invited the promoters to initiate the project after seeing the excellent murals painted by young people from the Island of Ireland inside the Peace School. The young people will also participate in a programme of conflict resolution, mutual understanding and carry out a peace-focused project for their community back home.
The Schools-Links Programme
Carried out through the work of the International School for Peace Studies the Schools-Links Programme engages large numbers of schools from all over the Island of Ireland in peace programmes, peace projects and study visits to the Flanders area, with the effect of the programme having a major impact on their lives.
In addition, on their return home the young people now contribute directly to the development of a new peaceful society, where people in Ireland can live side by side and where differences are accepted and respected.