Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan was among the guests at the official opening of the Banada Commemorative Garden on Sunday last.
The Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Councillor Rosaleen O’Grady officially opened the garden
Also attending were Council Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes, members of Banada Development Association, councillors and teachers and pupils of Banada and Castlerock National Schools.
The Cathaoirleach said: “When the outline programme for this Centenary Year was being planned some time ago, one very reassuring factor was the certainty that the people of Banada would host a special event to mark this formative event in Irish history.
“Today’s official opening represents one of the highlights of our 2016 Programme, and the presence of Minister Flanagan here today is indicative of the significance of this event, and is also a well deserved tribute to the organising committee.”
The Cathaoirleach paid a special tribute to the Banada community.
“Anyone wishing to study a model of community spirit and endeavour should look no further than the Banada community, who have energised the people of South Sligo in planning and delivering many outstanding projects over the years.
“One abiding memory I will always cherish as a public representative is the visit of the Rev Ian Paisley to Banada Peace Park in November 1999. The symbolism of the visit, the genuine warmth of the welcome extended by the local community, the political and historical back-drop to the event, all these strands combined to make it a visit of major significance.’’
‘‘The fact that Baroness Paisley and other members of her family have maintained contact with the Banada community is testament to the true meaning of this association.”
Cllr O’Grady said the Banada Peace Garden “in many ways was a microcosm of the peace movement, as it attracted committed support from all sides of the political spectrum – opened by John Hume in 1997 and visited, as we have said, by Reverend Paisley in 2009”.