New 'peace institute' to tap Good Friday Agreement experience
Exploratory talks have been held with national and international third-level bodies about setting up a ground-breaking institute for peace support and leadership training at the Curragh.
The Government has committed initial funding of €10m to kick-start the project.
The initiative is being led jointly by the Defence Forces and the Department of Defence, but is being aimed internationally at attracting interest from a wide range of personnel involved in conflict resolution and nation-building around the globe.
An implementation plan is now expected to be stepped up.
Defence Minister Paul Kehoe told the Irish Independent that Ireland was ideally placed to create a centre of international standing, which would gather knowledge and experience in the areas of peace support and conflict resolution.
Mr Kehoe said the experience gained here through the negotiations leading up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland, as well as the massive reputation built up worldwide by the Defence Forces for its involvement in peacekeeping, meant Ireland had a lot to offer in this area.
The initiative has been given the full support of the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, who said the Defence Forces must strive to nurture innovation networks with like-minded organisations.
Vice Admiral Mellett said the institute was a good example of how the military could leverage their knowledge and expertise to benefit government and society.
After securing the initial funding from the Government, Mr Kehoe is now chairing an advisory group laying down the groundwork for the project and has held bilateral talks with Vice Admiral Mellett and secretary general of the Department of Defence, Maurice Quinn.
The institute will be established at the Curragh, where the military has its training centre, and is expected to provide a multi-million euro boost to the local economy.
A task force will examine potential partners for the initiative and a high-profile figure is being sought to oversee the implementation of the project.