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Saturday 21 September 2019

'Colombia was inspired by the Irish peace process'

  

Juan Manuel Santos with President Higgins and his wife Sabina. Picture: Maxwells
Juan Manuel Santos with President Higgins and his wife Sabina. Picture: Maxwells

Conor Kane

The former president of Colombia who brokered a peace deal which ended 50 years of guerilla warfare has said the Irish peace process played a "key role" in inspiring the peace effort in that country.

Nobel laureate Juan Manuel Santos was speaking as he accepted the Tipperary International Peace Award for his work in bringing the Colombian conflict to an end.

He joined a list of former winners of the Tipperary prize which includes Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Mary McAleese, Bill Clinton, and George Mitchell.

The former president himself said he witnessed the IRA campaign for himself when in London in 1975, and he was "knocked to the ground" with others when a bomb exploded outside a club in London's Piccadilly. But when he became president in 2010, he looked at the example set in Northern Ireland and decided to seek peace with the FARC guerillas.

"The Northern Ireland peace process, in particular, played a key role in inspiring us to achieve peace," he said.

Irish Independent

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