A Different Kind of Tour: Finding Understanding Through Dialogue
Following discussion at the Veterans For Peace UK (VFP UK) 2014 annual conference it was decided that since a large section of our membership had played a role as combatants during the British military’s 38 year operational deployment to Northern Ireland, we should investigate a means of making a positive contribution to the ongoing development of the post conflict landscape.
The form this contribution has ultimately taken is ‘A Different Kind of Tour: Finding Understanding Through Dialogue’ which will see 8 members of VFP UK commence a 4 day journey across Northern Ireland in order to have dialogue with a range of people and groups who are drawn from communities to which the VFP UK group had previously been deployed as soldiers.
This visit has potential for the generation of greater understanding, because up until this moment contact between members of non ‘Home service’ British army units and the communities they were sent to ‘police’ has been restricted to the efforts of a few isolated individuals. As such, ‘A Different Kind of Tour: Finding Understanding Through Dialogue’ also represents something of a landmark moment in Northern Ireland’s post conflict process of healing. That others agree with both elements of this assessment can be ascertained from the generous support of the diverse group of organisations who have made it possible to create an itinerary that will be challenging but rewarding for all involved.
Part of this itinerary will be a public panel discussion ‘Poppy wars, commemoration and political division: Remembrance and conflict from WW I to today’ that will take place at the Canada Room of Queen’s University, Belfast at 1900 on the 24th of October. This event will feature two members of VFPUK and will be followed by an opportunity for the audience to informally interact with the remaining 6 members of the group. For those who can’t make Belfast there will be updates throughout our journey on the Veterans for Peace Facebook and Twitter pages.
Lee Lavis is a former British Infantryman and a member of Veterans For Peace UK.