Barr, Gorbachev, Walesa et al

LONDONDERRY loyalist and veteran peace and reconciliation worker Glen Barr has been invited to address a peace and non violence summit in May in a city known in the 1980s and 1990s as the most violent in the world.

The Waterside man has been invited to speak in Medillín, Colombia, on the basis of his groundbreaking peace and reconciliation work across Europe and told the Sentinel he understands some former world leaders will also be asked to attend.

These include former Eastern Bloc reformers Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa who presided over some of the most momentous events of the 20th century, Mr Barr told the paper.

“I’ve been invited to come over under the auspices of the city municipality to speak at the event,” he said. “It’s on the back of work that has been done by the International Peace School in Cyprus and the Balkans.”

The International School for Peace Studies in Belgium which Mr Barr established in the 1990s is famed as leading centre in the field of conflict transformation.

“As I understand it former world leaders suchs as Lech Walesa, Mikhail Gorbachev have been invited,” he said.

Mr Barr said he needs to consider whether he can attend the event or not, as knee surgery he underwent a few years ago, may make it difficult for him to travel. He may consider the possibilty of sending a colleage from the Peace School in his stead.

The Sentinel asked the local government in Medillín for details of the summit.

A spokeswoman for the municipality told the paper: “We are making the arrangements for a peace and non violence summit in May, hosted by Medellín Municipality.”

International invitations - including Mr Barr’s - are being dealt with by Medillín’s International Cooperation Agency, ACI, the spokeswoman said.

A recent ACI report said the Colombian city has been variously described as ‘The City of Everlasting Spring’ and ‘The Industrial City of Colombia.’

“Although it was known during the 1980’s and most of the 1990’s as the most violent city of the world due to the drug trafficking and bombings, the city has put those years behind to show its true face: A city that is kind, hard-working and concerned for its people,” the same report claims.