His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, arrived in Derry City at the invitation of the charity Children in Crossfire who are holding a ‘Culture of Compassion’ event where the Tibetan spiritual leader spoke to 2,500 people at ‘The Venue’ in Ebrington and, afterwards, walked the city’s Peace Bridge accompanied by 300 school children from the area.
The Peace Bridge, which opened in 2011 and cost 14 million to build, connects the unionist and nationalist sides of the River Foyle. Before crossing the bridge, the Dalai Lama will meet Catholic and Protestant church leaders, including Monsignor Eamon Martin.
Addressing the people of Derry, the Dalai Lama said that Derry was an example to the world, showing how peace is possible.
“There is no other alternative to the peace process, there is no other choice - you have to work and live together so we should not act like animals,” he said.
The Dalai Lama’s previous visit to Derry in 2007 was also in aid of the Children in Crossfire charity which is directed by Richard Moore who was blinded by a rubber bullet fired by a British soldier 40 years ago. Moore met the Dalai Lama after he befriended the soldier who had shot him and travelled with him to the exiled leader’s home in Tibet.
Moore is delighted at the Dalai Lama’s visit and hopes that his presence will send out a message about how far Derry has come.
"We are thrilled to welcome His Holiness back to Derry/Londonderry. He came to the city six years ago as part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations and has been a dedicated patron of the charity since that time. We are delighted that people from across Northern Ireland and beyond will have an opportunity to see and hear him speak during this City of Culture year," reports 4NI.