Share |


Contact Us 


Universal Peace Federation (UPF)

PEACE ROAD BELFAST 2023 - Prayer Walk



UPF Ireland Peace Road Walk & Forum 2021

"Ending Conflict in Ireland - Lessons for the World?"

Derry City 26.9.21, part of the International Peace Road Project

The Strait Guys - teaser from Rick Minnich on Vimeo.

UPF Ireland Peace Road Forum 2019 - "Global Family - Local Harmony"
"Is there a Role for Faith in Modern Ireland"

Report by Colm Ó Cionnaith, Sec-Gen UPF Ireland

DOWNPATRICK, Co. Down, “The Home of Saint Patrick” - a Briton who became Ireland’s most revered and patron saint, was the venue for the the 4th annual UPF Ireland Peace Road Walk and 2nd annual Forum on Sunday, 22nd September.

The morning’s events in the picturesque Ulster town commenced as interfaith ‘pilgrims’ arrived from the four provinces of Ireland, braving their way through stormy conditions and made their way up the short hilly walk of Slieve Patrick, just outside Downpatrick. The Heaven’s smiled as dark rain clouds receded to a beautiful soft mist and on reaching the summit, participants were treated to a breath-taking view of the region, with Strangford loch visible through the encroaching mist, as well as views of the Isle of Man and Carlingford in Co. Louth, in the Republic (location of previous Peace Road Forums).

Keener eyes might have even been able to spot the coastline of Scotland if they had focused a little harder on the majestic horizon! It is easy to see how a future bridge or tunnel could connect to Scotland if the will and the finances could be found to extend Rev. Moon’s vision of the World Highway ‘Peace Road’ to our island and no doubt bring great prosperity and trade to the region and to our celtic cousins, Scotland.

This might also help us to feel more united if a post-Brexit world becomes a reality. Time will tell whether or not this oft-mooted possibility becomes reality.

After milling around the world’s tallest statue of St Patrick for a while, participants then made their way to the altar area a little bit further down the hill and assembled for readings from Peace Ambassadors Mrs. Maryam Timile and Mrs. Zeinab Mustafa, who read Biblical, Qu’ranic and other inspirational passages from the World Scripture book on the holy site.
Everyone joined with FFWPU National Pastor Ely Loew as he offered a prayer of unity and gratitude to our Heavely Parent for sending Saint Patrick to our shores (in 432 AD), reflecting on his origins as a slave and how he was effectively one of the earliest recorded campaigners in history for the rights of those unfortunates subject to slavery and trafficking - a point often missed by many when considering St. Patrick’s legacy.
The inspiration for the Peace Road Walk in Ireland being held on this particular weekend is to mark the UN Day of Peace, which fell on the previous day and the 21st anniversary of the Belfast, Good Friday agreement which has secured peace for our Island and helped us to live with dual identities and citizenship after 30 years of civil war.
Concluding the peace walk, the more than 30 participants made their way down the hill and headed for the St. Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick town centre for the second part of the day, the Peace Road Forum, where a number of presentations were given by current and new Peace Ambassadors.

2019’s Peace Road Walk and Forum had he theme: “Global Family, Local Harmony” and the topic the presentations addressed was: “Is there a role for Faith in modern society?” Colm Ó Cionnaith emceed the afternoon events and first up was proud Irish-American, Kate Tsubata, who delighted the audience with the first Ireland and UK private screening of her new motion picture “Dancing Joy” which features Beethoven’s famous 9th symphony as the choreography for traditional dance troupes from all over the world, from Japan and Fiji to Bulgaria, Belfast, Dublin, Honduras and Africa to name but a few of the locations. Before the screening Kate gave some insights into her work and what motivated and inspired her to make the movie: how art for her was the way she preferred to express her faith, rather than simply lecturing. She emphasised that creativity was universal and all cultures and nations can appreciate art, music and dance as an expression of cultural and religious unity, given that we all share the almost all the same dna and ultimately the same Creator.

Next up was Dr. James Uhomoibhi from Ulster University who enchanted us with his story, how he came to Northern Ireland over 30 years previous, having had to study for his qualifications in Italian and how he almost had to learn Serbo-Croat as well in order to progress in his studies!
Dr. Uhomoibhi contrasted his fortunes in the pursuit of educational excellence and the opportunities he received with those of his compatriots in the developing world. He told the forum that education was the best way of out poverty and the opportunities it can bring can benefit the recipients on all metrics, from sustained income to good health and life expectancy. He conveyed very well the heart of someone who has given so much to his colleagues, family and friends and who continues to spread light to his students and colleagues and all he comes into contact with. UPF Ireland are delighted to have him join the ranks of our Peace Ambassadors along with Marisa Goldstone-Leavold from Cavan and also his Ulster University colleague, Dr Marisol Giardina de Navarro who was next up.

Dr. Giardina de Navarro movingly told the audience how she was determined through her work with “Healing Venezuela” to highlight the decline of this once great nation, which has been ravished by the entrenchment of an ideology and slavish adherence to marxist doctrine which has left the country destitute, with its citizens forced to search garbage bins in many cases in order to find food. Later FFWPU Ireland National Pastor Ely Loew called on the audience and participants to support the various charities showcased at the forum, ‘Healing Veneuzuela’, ‘Religious Youth Service’ and ‘E-ducare’.
Rev. Marshall de Souza reminded the forum that we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the historic RYS service project, held down the road in what was then the Columcille Centre on the Antrim Road in Belfast. Historic, not least because participants there were able to visit the new Northern Ireland Assembly as part of the project along with the other conferences which took place in 1999, under the auspices of UPF’s forerunners IIFWP and the WFWP.

Government recognition could be seen in video footage of the event which showed former President of Ireland, Uachtaráin Mrs. Mary McAleese visiting the Peace Garden project shortly after it was completed, where she acknowledged the hard work of Marshall, Columbanus Centre Director Rev. Glenn Barclay and former UPF Ireland Secretary General Mr. Halvard Iversen and RYS participants from all over the world, representing multiple faith traditions.
Rev. de Souza talked about the work of the RYS in Britain and throughout the world and how service learning is so beneficial to both the participants and the areas chosen alike, enabling education and healing to take place. Many testimonies of transformational internal change have been recorded due to his work with various interfaith endeavours such as RYS and the anti-AIDs project, WAIT, which provides abstinence-based education through the medium of modern hip-hop dancing.
Marshall thanked earlier presenter Mrs. Kate Tsubata, who set up the latter organisation in the US many years ago and which is still active in parts of the world, such as the Phillipines, which are still struggling to deal with the crisis of HIV/AIDs and whose citizens do not have access to same level of healthcare that citizens of western countries enjoy to combat this scourge.

Reflections on RYS 1999
Religious Youth Service BELFAST

The final presentation to the forum continued with the education theme where Bruno Miresse (another former UPF Ireland Secretary-General) and his colleague, Pierluigi Cosca gave the forum some insights into the incredible work the charity Mr. Cosca founded - ‘E-ducare’ is doing in funding the schooling and education of young people in the developing countries such as Vietnam and Tanzania as well as with the homeless in Dublin.
It was clear for all to see the satisfaction that E-ducare members derive in living for the sake of others and supporting the underprivileged and giving hope and dreams to so many through fund-raising and paying for schools and teachers. “Give a man a fish….” is the motto of E-ducare and as the current UPF Sec-Gen, I for one am very inspired by how our Peace Ambassadors and former Sec-Gen’s continue the work of inspiring and living for the sake of others in their day to day lives.

My call to action for our global network of peace-builders was echoed on staged by Pastor Loew and Northern Europe Regional Director of FFWPU, Rev. Dr. David Hanna, who gave both gave closing remarks, before the presentation of Peace Ambassador awards to Dr. Marisol Giardina de Navarro, Mrs. Goldstone-Leavold and Dr. Uhomoibhi, who graciously received their commissions and acknowledgements.
In presenting the awards, I emphasised that this award was in recognition of lives lived in service to others, but that it is also a call to continue to live the upf values of ‘living for the sake of others’ by working together as peace ambassadors.
Pastor Loew told the forum about his experiences in working on an RYS service learning project in the past and explained a little about the vision, our UPF founder Rev. Moon has for an interfaith assembly in the UN and how politics should be aided by faith, not seek to exclude, especially given the religious dimension to many of the world’s conflicts, not least in Northern Ireland’s past. Dr. Hanna closed this year’s forum by explaining more about the ‘Peace Road’ movement around the world, the different forms it takes and the inspirations of different participants and it’s genesis in the ‘World Highway Project’ first mooted by Rev. Moon, which seeks to connect the world and create trade links even between China, USA and Russia through the Beiring Straits.
My great hope is that the legacy of Peace Road Forum 2019 is that participants left feeling refreshed and inspired by this initiative and I look forward to suggestions from Peace Ambassadors and regional coordinators such as Mr Tinko Tinev, Mr John Kennedy and Dr. Omar Escalona as to how we can mark other significant UN days in 2020, such as Africa Day and Day of the Family with events and initiatives which can address at least some of our aims and some of the many innovative projects of UPF, such as the International Association for Peace & Development (IAPD), ‘parliamentarians for peace’ (IAPP) and the international conference for the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS). A great big thank you to all who contributed to the success of the days events, many travelling long distances, you know who you are! Beannacht Dé oraibh go léir (May God Bless you all!). PHOTOS courtesy of Róisín McManus.


Report by Colm Ó Cionnaith, Sec-Gen UPF Ireland

CARLINGFORD, Co. Louth, 9 Sept 2018 - The border region of Ireland, which could in a short period of time become a new western frontier between the EU and the United Kingdom played host to an important new initiative from UPF Ireland: the Peace Road Forum.

Peace Road Events have been held through the world, from island to island cycles in Japan to the two previous events in Ireland, the addition of the inaugural 'Forum' this year was a challenge set by the local UPF chapter in order to boost it's profile and give a 'kick-start' for future development and expansion.

The day's events started with the 3rd annual morning event: a walk around the famous 'Battle of the Boyne' battlefield. Heaven smiled on the 'peace walkers' as the sun shone down on us at the beautiful Oldbridge Estate, Co. Meath, in the backdrop the restored stately home which hosts the historical centre, one of the many fruits of the successful Peace Process, a symbol of the new Ireland, where sectarian and political conflict is thankfully a thing of the past and visitors are reminded of some of the origins of much of the 'troubles.'

UPF Ireland Peace Road Forum discusses Brexit challenge to Peace Process

Report by Colm Ó Cionnaith, Sec-Gen UPF Ireland

CARLINGFORD, Co. Louth, 9 Sept 2018 - The border region of Ireland, which could in a short period of time become a new western frontier between the EU and the United Kingdom played host to an important new initiative from UPF Ireland: the Peace Road Forum.

Peace Road Events have been held through the world, from island to island cycles in Japan to the two previous events in Ireland, the addition of the inaugural 'Forum' this year was a challenge set by the local UPF chapter in order to boost it's profile and give a 'kick-start' for future development and expansion.

The day's events started with the 3rd annual morning event: a walk around the famous 'Battle of the Boyne' battlefield. Heaven smiled on the 'peace walkers' as the sun shone down on us at the beautiful Oldbridge Estate, Co. Meath, in the backdrop the restored stately home which hosts the historical centre, one of the many fruits of the successful Peace Process, a symbol of the new Ireland, where sectarian and political conflict is thankfully a thing of the past and visitors are reminded of some of the origins of much of the 'troubles.'

Before the walk some visited the tea-rooms and walled gardens, then participants were treated to a fascinating guided tour through the interperative centre by a staff member, an Office of Public Works Historian: after her illuminating explaination of the many different angles to the battle (such as conflict for supremacy of the British throne and the struggle between 'Sun-King' Louis IV and the Pope for religious domination in Europe to name just a few), she fielded questions and gave us a new perspective on not only the day's events, but on the politial and religious context of the 17th century as well as the repercussions of the battle, which we are still dealing with today. I for one was surprised to learn that William of Orange had the support of the Pope on the day of the battle!

The second part of the day's events, the Peace Road Forum itself, kicked off after lunch in the Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford, Co. Louth, near the 'border' with Northern Ireland. Two sessions of 3 speakers each gave their perspectives on Brexit and what their opinions on what effect it was likely to have on them and on Britain, Ireland and Europe. Emcee Colm Ó Cionnaith, Secretary-General of UPF Ireland introduced participants to the speakers and first on the agenda in the opening session was:

Mark Brann, a solicitor for almost 40 years and former UPF Europe Vice-President. Mr. Brann was of the opinion that Britain was acting contrary to 'God's Will' in that she was acting in her short-term, selfish interest and that it saddened him that she was departing from her proud history of being an outward-looking and important world player. He feared her significance would diminish as she withdrew in the form of Brexit, to concern herself with more domestic affairs.

Mr. Brann emphasised that we should all see ourselves as 'One Family under God', as our UPF founders Rev. & Mrs. Moon always emphasised, and that in his opinion, Brexit was against this spirit of co-operating with the family of near-neighbours in Europe, where if nothing else, the EU had at least achieved its founding goal of avoiding another world war since its inception in 1957.

While the EU still has many flaws, the ideal of european unity and co-operation was something still worth striving for and that both Europe and Britain would be the poorer culturally and poltically, if not economically by the British dis-engagement from the EU. Mr. Brann emphasised that not all of his co-religionists shared this view towards Brexit and that many were enthusiastic 'Brexiteers'.

I was left feeling grateful to Mark for going a long way towards helping me, as an Irish Unificationist, understand a little deeper his British Unificationist perspective on this thorny subject and afterwards I feel a lot less perplexed at the decision of the British people to 'Brexit', having heard his opinion.

However, I can't help thinking that the consideration of Ireland and the Irish border didn't feature much in the 'Brexit' debate or vote, and now, worse still in the final negotiations towards a Brexit 'deal', it seems that many Brexiteers may be happy to use the Irish Border as some sort of a bargaining chip, oblivious to, or even reckless, as to the potential destabilising affect such cynical behaviour could have on our nascent peace process.

While Mark's excellent introduction set the tone for the afternoon's Peace Road Forum, he was followed by the ever-inspiring Linda Ervine, Irish language officer of the Methodist Mission in Belfast, who reminded us of the support given by the EU throughout the Peace Process in Northern Ireland and bemoaned the undertones of racism that were present in the run-up the Brexit vote.

Ms. Ervine outlined the contribution of the immigrant community to Northern Ireland and the wealth of diversity they have brought and how their contribution to the health services, the economy and society in general needed to be valued and appreciated. Linda told us about her work with the Skainos centre and how their work involves not only helping the most needy with their basic training and educational needs but also in reaching across cultural boundaries and facilitating greater understanding of our shared history and culture in these islands.

Linda told the forum that while she is not from the 'border' area, she has lived all her life in Northern Ireland and that peoples' lives in Belfast have been greatly enriched by the peace of the last 25 years and painted a picture of a new Northern Ireland emerging from the dark shadows of the past. Linda was concerned that this was under threat from Brexit and that it certainly was not going to be any help. Although Brexit was not the will of the people of Northern Ireland they were bound by the UK wide vote nevertheless.

Pierrot Ngadi, who has been living and working in Ireland as a mental health professional for nearly two decades told us about his passion for the work of Roger Casement, the Irish patriot and former British establishment figure hanged for treason, who exposed the abuses of King Leopold in Congo. Mr. Ngadi is very eager that the UPF be used as a force for ensuring justice in the developing world and was keen to emphasise that while he was not an expert on Brexit, he felt that Casement, his hero, would have been sceptical of the motives of those who were motivated by Empire, exclusion and separatism.

Mr. Ngadi told the forum that Congo is a country of immense wealth, that the substance 'colton', present in all our laptops and cellphones is found in abundance there. Consequently colton, along with the many other resources present there, should mean that Congo, ideally could be a very wealthly country, capable of creating a high standard of living for it's people if it was governed well.

The UPF in its 'good governance' role should seek to use its influence to assist the developing world, and Mr. Ngadi told the forum he is determined to continue in the spirit of Casement to ensure justice for all in the developed and developing world, but that to achieve that, freedom was a pre-requisite.

Following a short break, the next session of the Peace Road Forum was re-started by Diadeen Ahmed who lives in Galway, but is from Sudan originally. Diadeen has expertise in the Arab affairs and in the struggle for democracy and freedom in his home country. Mr. Ahmed is reaching out to the immigrant community in Galway and keen to ensure that his projects facilitate cultural understanding between Islam and the West and that the immigrant experience in Ireland should be one where they feel part of the host nation and can contribute to the security and peace of the nation.

He hoped that UPF can be a force for stabilisation in conflict zones such as his home country of Sudan and wished that he could be re-united with his family soon. He invited participants to join him in a future UPF Ireland project in Galway, with the working theme of 'Art for Peace' and encouraged the forum to support this initiave, which is another key UPF goal, that of promoting intercultural and inter-faith co-operation and understanding.

Humphrey Hawksley, renowned journalist, author and commentator told the forum that in his opinion, the Irish border issue should not be an insurmountable one and that in many parts of the world solutions were in place which allowed people to co-exist peacefully and indeed, prosper despite them. He was inspired by the Peace Road ideal and how, if it would ever be feasible, connecting North America and Russia through the Bering strait would be a step in the right direction, at least in theory and would be a massive achievement for humanity.

The cost of such an endeavour of course being very prohibitive at the moment, althought there may be some value in connecting the two 'diamede' islands on either side of the international dateline with a bridge, even for its symbolic significance. Mr. Hawksley told the forum that in our new technological age of instant communication, a more important issue than fearing physical borders perhaps was that data roaming restrictions or cost barriers to the social and economic developments facilitated by information technology were not re-introduced by phenoma such as Brexit.

Keith Best, former MP and Barrister concluded the speakers contribution to the Forum by moving hearts in his explaination of the work he has been doing for many years as a Welsh language activist and with his connections to Ireland and the tragedies he witnessed in the past relating to the conflict in the North. Mr. Best served for many years on the Northern Ireland committee in government and told the forum, that his experience of the history of conflict on our Island makes him feel that Brexit is a mistake and that not only is it not helpful to Ireland, but that it wouldn't be advantageous to Britain either. Mr. Best told participants that he was of the view that devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had made the UK more united and that Brexit could potentially undermine that.

As a key leader and long time member of the World Federalist Movement, Mr. Best said he was a passionate about 'subsidiarity' - the theory where power should flow from the bottom up and that decision making should happen at the lowest democratic level possible.

The Question & Answers session followed where speakers were asked to elaborate on some of the issues brought up by the forum theme and in their addresses. All participants were asked to submit questions to the panel. One question asked whether immigation and racism was the main issue which led to the vote on Brexit. Panelists were each in turn asked to provide their insight. The session was Moderated by Robin Marsh, UPF UK Sec-Gen, who himself fielded a question about the funding structure of UPF. Another question was addressed by Keith Best who said he didn't see any parallels between the Henry VIII's Reformation and Brexit! Perhaps it was understandable that the questioner might see some parallels, given the intense emotional experience of the morning's Peace Road Walk at the Battle of the Boyne Visitor centre!

Pastor Ely Loew, Chairman of UPF Ireland presented UPF Peace Ambassasor certificates to Maryam Temile, Nigerian Lawyer and Mediator, a tireless servant of her Church and community in Cavan, where she sits on school boards and parents committees and is always the first name on the list when it comes to organinsing inter-cultural events in the region; Zeinab El Moustafa, Sudanese citizen, Certified member of Arab International Federation for Arbitration, experienced in working for UN conflict resolution projects in Afghanistan and Iraq, also from Cavan; and our three gracious speakers: Ms. Linda Ervine, Mr. Pierrot Ngadi and Mr. Diadeen Ahmed.

Following some entertainment by singer Róisín McManus, the final event of the day, painstakingly organised by Mr. John Kennedy, was hurridly convened as cyclists assembled at the bike hire shop in Carlingford to complete the 'triathalon' of the day's events with a cycle to the border. Today's border is almost non-existant and as you cross from South to North you will be lucky to see any sign that there is political disunity in Ireland. This is in large part due to the membership of the European Union by both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Whatever the outcome of Brexit, we in Ireland trust that we will not see the erection of a 'hard border' and that citizens, North and South whether they consider themselvers Irish or British or Northern Irish can move and communicate freely along these new roads of Peace. Borders may be necessary to define territory and regulate immigration and tariffs, but they can also serve as a reminder of disunity and conflict, something we hope we never have to witness again on this island. PHOTOS & VIDEOS courtesy of Róisín McManus & Melanie Kennedy