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Secretary of State for Northern Ireland visits exhibition marking women’s contribution to peacebuilding in Northern Ireland

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland visited Herstory’s Peace Heroines exhibition in Derry-Londonderry, showcasing women’s pivotal role in the Northern Ireland peace process, as the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement approaches.

Mr Heaton-Harris viewed the touring exhibition, currently at the Tower Museum, featuring inspiring women who have contributed to the Northern Ireland peace process and continue to be involved in cross-community dialogue and reconciliation projects today.

The Secretary of State’s visit to the exhibition is in addition to the Northern Ireland Office’s programme of events marking the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement

Organised in partnership with the National Museums NI and the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund to create the Peace Heroines education programme, the exhibition includes stunning new portraits of leading female peacebuilding figures such as Monica McWilliams, Pat Hume and Baroness May Blood by the artist Marian Noone, also known as Friz.

Speaking after viewing the exhibition, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, said:

“Women played a pivotal role in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement negotiations and continue to do so today through further peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts throughout communities in Northern Ireland. The portraits of Northern Ireland’s iconic female peacebuilders are simply inspiring.

“The UK Government is unshakable in its commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and the 25th anniversary marks an extraordinary achievement for Northern Ireland. It is important we showcase women’s contribution to the Agreement to inspire the next generation and build on the remarkable progress Northern Ireland has made this past quarter century.”

Herstory CEO and Creative Director Melanie Lynch reveals the inspiration behind the project:

“When I met with Ireland’s former Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Nason-Byrne, she explained to me that the role of women in the Northern Ireland peace process is a key United Nations case study. I reached out to our school contacts and they confirmed that this essential story is not taught on the official school curriculum in Northern Ireland or the Republic. Our new Peace Heroines project aims to change that and introduce students and the public to these legendary activists and inspire the next generation of peace builders. It’s time to write Herstory into history.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Sandra Duffy, said:

“Women have always had a leading role in Derry’s history, helping to keep families and communities together during dark times. They kept local industry going in the factories, supported homes, brought up children and drove social and political change in the most economically and politically turbulent times. The Council is delighted to see their contribution to peace recognised in this important exhibition. These real heroines were an inspiration to so many young women, who are proud to take up the mantle and continue their work for positive change and peace in our society.

“The Council is delighted to host this significant collection of artworks that acknowledges the immense contribution made by women who at great personal cost dedicated their lives to lobbying for change and promoting cross community relations.”

Touring across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and further afield, Peace Heroines is on display at the Tower Museum in Derry-Londonderry until 24 March, before it features at the United Nations in New York from 27 March.

To keep up to date with the Northern Ireland Office’s activity during the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement’s 25th anniversary year, visit:

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