City of Peace accolade for Londonderry 'inspires hope' as UN attend Guildhall ceremony.

Londonderry is the first city on the island of Ireland officially declared an International City of Peace.

The accolade was granted in recognition of the city’s transformation from the violence of the troubles to increased reconciliation.

There are nearly 400 International Cities of Peace across the world.

Chair, J. Fred Armet, told UTV the Derry/Londonderry story inspires hope .

“From violence to peace is an extraordinary journey.

There are countries right now involved in violence, looking for answers and Derry/Londonderry has some of those answers.”

The United Nations sent a representative to the declaration ceremony in the Guildhall.

Over 400 pupils from second level schools in Derry and Strabane also attended.

Each school read out their own declaration for peace and hopes for the future of the city.

The initiative was led by the Rev. David Latimer.

The Presbyterian Minister struck up an unlikely friendship with Republican and former Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness.

Rev. Latimer has worked on numerous peace and reconciliation projects ever since, many involving local young people.

He told UTV that today was a significant milestone: “I was a little bit emotional, here we are with Derry City and Strabane District now sitting around the table of International Peace Cities.

"It takes my breath away.”

Video messages from international representatives of other Cities of Peace were played during the event.

The daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who campaigned against racial segregation in South Africa, was among those who sent her well wishes.

Rev. Canon Mpho Tu Tu van Firth told the audience she is overjoyed for the city : “We know Derry/Londonderry will be a beacon of hope, both now and in the future.”

A new sculpture was also unveiled.

It will join other landmarks of peace that mark the cityscape, and is engraved with a simple message for future Peace Makers.

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