About - Reconciliation
Reconciliation Day (Day of Reconciliation) was founded by Vincent Coyle with the full support of Kofi Annan, General Secretary of the UN. It was ratified by every country in the United Nations and was 'adopted unanimously' on 14th December 2003 at Waldhof Place, Germany. Vincent Coyle has always believed that truth and justice are fundamental to achieving true financial, social and environmental reconciliation. Vincent’s passion for human rights and all-inclusive justice grew from a very young age, where he listened to, understood and was inspired by the teachings of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi. It is this deep-rooted passion and continual learning that has enabled Vincent to become the driving force behind worldwide phenomenon - Reconciliation Day – celebrated on the 3rd Saturday every April.
The Journey of Reconciliation Day
Vincent Coyle began his active participation in Civil Rights campaigns in Northern Ireland in 1968, working with John Hume and Ivan Cooper and has been highly involved ever since.
Vincent Coyle with John Hume and Ivan Cooper:
Bloody Sunday – sometimes called the Bogside Massacre – was an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march against internment. Fourteen people died: thirteen were killed outright, while the death of another man four months later was attributed to his injuries. Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. Other protesters were injured by rubber bullets or batons, and two were run down by army vehicles.The march had been organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and the Northern Resistance Movement. The soldiers involved were members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, also known as "1 Para".
Two investigations have been held by the British government. The Widgery Tribunal, held in the immediate aftermath of the incident, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame. It described the soldiers' shooting as "bordering on the reckless", but accepted their claims that they shot at gunmen and bomb-throwers. The report was widely criticised as a "whitewash". The Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the incident. Following a 12-year inquiry, Saville's report was made public in 2010 and concluded that the killings were both "unjustified" and "unjustifiable". It found that all of those shot were unarmed, that none were posing a serious threat, that no bombs were thrown, and that soldiers "knowingly put forward false accounts" to justify their firing. On the publication of the report, British Prime Minister David Cameron made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom. Following this, police began a murder investigation into the killings.
Bloody Sunday was one of the most significant events of "the Troubles" because a large number of civilian citizens were killed, by forces of the state, in full view of the public and the press. It was the highest number of people killed in a single shooting incident during the conflict. Bloody Sunday increased Catholic and Irish nationalist hostility towards the British Army and exacerbated the conflict. Support for the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) rose and there was a surge of recruitment into the organisation, especially locally.
Vincent was inspired by the events that happened in Burundi, Africa which deepened his invloved in the believe of a reconciliation day with truth and justice globally.
Vincent held discussions with Garett Fitzgerald on truth, justice and reconciliation, where Garett supported Vincent’s work. Garett was twice Taoiseach of Ireland (Prime Minister / Head of Government) and a great supporter of both Vincent’s reconciliation work and Reconciliation Day.
Garett went to sign on behave of the Irish government, the first ever agreement that gave Irish government a say in the running of Northern Ireland politics with the Prime Minister of GB Margaret Thatcher.
During this period, Vincent Coyle worked closely with world leaders and communities in promoting the aims and ideologies of true ‘Reconciliation’. This included in 1993; the Norwegian Government were in secret negotiations with the Israelis and the Palestinians, which lead to the ‘Oslo Accord’.
‘The Oslo Accords marked the first time that the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) formally recognized one another, and publicly committed to negotiate a solution to their decades-long conflict based on territorial compromise. The accords did not stipulate, but implied, the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. That two-state vision required Israel to abandon its negation of Palestinian claims to national sovereignty, and Palestinians accept that such claims would be limited to only a small part of the entire territory of historic Palestine for which the PLO had been fighting, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the remainder.’
After this event, the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, wrote to Vincent Coyle to give his full support for Reconciliation Day - as Rabin believed that Israel wanted peace and security.
‘The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on 4th November 1995 (12th of Marcheshvan, 5756 on the Hebrew calendar) at 21:30, at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo Accords at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv. The assassin, an Israeli ultranationalist named Yigal Amir, radically opposed Rabin's peace initiative and particularly the signing of the Oslo Accord.’ Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, and Yasser Arafat at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony, in Washington, on 13th September 1993:
Vincent worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs, of which Dick Spring was the Minister (93-97) to discuss Reconciliation Day and the planning of a Worldwide Reconciliation Day. Vincent also worked closely with Mr Se Goulding of the Human Rights Unit and Ruairi Quinn, Minister of Finance.
Vincent corresponded with Nelson Mandela, President de Clerk and the ANC on the ethos of Worldwide Reconciliation Day. South Africa opted for a day of National Reconciliation and holiday as a South African only solution. Vincent welcomed this as he believed it was the best way forward; ‘Reconciliation is the only way to obtain truth, justice and building a lasting peace’.
The first National Reconciliation public holiday in South Africa was on 16th December 1995. Vincent is a strong supporter of the National Reconciliation public holiday in South Africa.
Before the ceasefire in the North of Ireland / Northern Ireland, Vincent Coyle led the ‘Derry Can Do It’ campaign in support of Reconciliation across Europe. One project of which Vincent was the driving force behind was the plan to hold the ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ in Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland in which Vincent was prepared to finance the entire Eurovision contest for them to stage it in Derry, in order to demonstrate and express Reconciliation through an alternative medium.
‘Mr. Coyle's proposal has received generalised support from various Ministers of this Government, members of the European Commission, various agencies of Government, etc., but he is being continually placed in a Catch-22 situation. Before the ceasefire he mounted the “Derry Can Do It” campaign to hold the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest in Derry city, RTE having staged the contest for two successive years in the South. This may appear to be a dream but look at what has happened. Nobody believed that contest could be successfully staged in Millstreet yet it was an immense success. It says something for the vision of Mr. Coyle who, in his document, quoted President Kennedy who said that the best way to secure the future is to invent it. If we could invent a future in which there was peace achieved through reconciliation — the only way to achieve permanent peace — and if by imagining it, we could accomplish it, even if in the process we were labelled “naive”, we would have done something very worthwhile indeed.’
This plan was then abandoned for security reasons when the IRA ceasefire sadly broke-down because of the Canary Wharf bombing and it was deemed safer to hold the event in Dublin.
Vincent Coyle worked with Senator David Norris to raise the profile of the necessity for reconciliation. Vincent suggested that Irish representatives at the United Nations take a prominent role surrounding the International Day of Peace on 17th September. Earlier that year Vincent had been in detailed correspondence with many Ministers of the House of Oireachtas with information concerning his idea for Reconciliation Day. He suggested that a vast and substantial number of dove emblems would be printed and distributed after a formal presentation at the United Nations. To support this, Kofi Annan, whilst Secretary General of the United Nations, wore a symbol of a dove.
The Government agreed that an emblem was a significantly positive symbol and they chose to wear a white ribbon; this caught the attention, hearts and minds of a great number of people. Vincent had also suggested that Westminster together with the Irish Government wore the emblems to symbolise leadership and reconciliation.
The Peace and Reconciliation Forum was set up in October 1994 by the Irish Government - as part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process - and was attended by John Hume and Michel D Higgins (was Minister for Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht, as of 2011 is the President of Ireland). Before the project was even launched, Vincent was lobbying domestically and internationally in regards to the scheme.
As quoted by Senator David Norris; ‘The project was booked for the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation by the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. The Minister also encouraged the project in a number of letters. However, he indicated that there was no heading under his budget to provide finance; finance is, of course, part of the kernel. Former Taoiseach, Deputy Albert Reynolds (former Irish Prime Minister), pledged full support for the project and accepted an invitation to become a patron (of Reconciliation Day). Contacts were established in over 30 countries worldwide and words of encouragement and well wishes were received from many of them.’
Burundi, a country the size of Maryland in Central Africa with an estimated population of 6.2 million, has been torn apart by socio-political "ethnic" conflict. In October 1993, the elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, was assassinated by members of the Tutsi military. Since that time the country has been in turmoil. Many Burundians have fled into exile and others have been placed in internal displaced persons’ camps. Burundians have come to hate and kill one another. Estimates indicate that perhaps 3% of the population or 200,000 people have been killed since 1993. Moreover while Burundi was one of the poorest nations in the world before the 1993 unrest, the violence, destruction, and insecurity has made people even more desperate. In addition to the lack of a political settlement between the warring sides, another major handicap that prevents the country from embarking on the road to peace is the continuing trauma from the conflict.
During the crisis, many people have experienced a lot of unusual, shocking, painful, and unimaginable events. They are still wounded, broken and despairing. For many, restoring peace seems to be a dream that will never come true. They are suffering effects of post traumatic stress disorders which can cause many to nurture the spirit of vengeance and violence.
Reconciliation was seen at its best to bring the civil war and genocide in Rwanda to an end as during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, up to one million people perished and as many as 250,000 women were raped, leaving the country’s population traumatized and its infrastructure decimated. Since then, Rwanda has embarked on an ambitious justice and reconciliation process with the ultimate aim of all Rwandans once again living side by side in peace.
Vincent continues to bring reconciliation through truth and justice to the country of Burundi and Rwanda to help and enable the countries grow and become more peaceful and less traumatise by violence and destruction.
During 1995 Vincent Coyle worked to create a ‘live-aid’ style Reconciliation Concert which was to be recorded by RTE and held in Derry/ Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to hold the event due to security reasons; the bands didn’t want to become a target.
A letter dated 30th January 1996 from Mr. Esben Poulsen, on behalf of the President of the Commission, Jacques Santer, stated to Vincent Coyle:
‘I admire your enthusiasm and commitment ... The peace and reconciliation programme can only be successful if new ideas like yours are generated from within the populations of Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland themselves’.
The Day of Peace was established in 1981 and the concept was initially supported by Britain and Costa Rica.
International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21st September. Established in 1981 by resolution 36/37, the United Nations General Assembly declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Furthering the Day’s mission, the General Assembly voted unanimously in 2001 to adopt resolution 55/282 establishing 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease- fire.
It was Vincent’s hope to integrate both the Day of Peace and World Reconciliation Day. On 26th July 1996 it was identified that Vincent Coyle had added an important element to the Peace activities and that ‘Reconciliation’ was indeed a key word and idea. Vincent’s wish was to have continued peace and believed that ‘you need to have peace through reconciliation, built on both truth and justice’.
Vincent had originally approached Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary General at the United Nations. At the time, Boutros Boutros-Ghali believed Reconciliation Day was unachievable as so many countries had different agendas, however, Vincent believed that if the UN were to achieve peace then they needed the essential element of reconciliation.
Peace and Reconciliation was discussed at length at the Seanad Eireann Debate in 1996.
Seanad Eireann Debate
Vincent lobbied UN countries globally to take on board the ethos and meaning of Reconciliation and to understand why and how Reconciliation created lasting Peace.
Vincent was in neogations with Bertie Ahern in the respect of the needs and care of the victims, i.e truth, justice and healing leading to a true reconciliation across Ireland. Taoiseach , Mr Bertie Ahern on behave of the Irish government established a Victims Commision shared by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield.
Vincent carried on a very close consultation and correspondence with Mo Mowlam, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who was pivotal and in bringing the Good Friday Agreement to a close that was chaired by George Mitchell of the United States. During this period Vincent impressed the need of Reconciliation Day on truth with justice and Mo Mowlam gave her full support for Reconciliation Day.
After the Good Friday Agreement was signed and as a sign of appreciation and thanks to President Clinton’s support Vincent Coyle offered a gift of white doves emblem to highlight Reconciliation Day.
On 5th December 2004, the Thai Government took on board their liking for the dove symbolism of Reconciliation and the Prime Minister, Thaskin Shinawatra, arranged for an estimated 1million ‘peace bombs’ white origami doves to be dropped over southern Thailand, in the provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani. Many of the doves had messages on from children and the principal dove had a message from President Thaskin. Mr Thaksin promised that the student who found it would win an education scholarship.
Vincent Coyle worked closely and coordinated the events together with The Civil Rights Commemoration Committee which hosted an international conference on Saturday 4th – Sunday 5th October 2008 in the Guildhall in Derry to commemorate the Duke Street march. The conference reflected on civil rights, highlighted the civil rights challenges and looked at the roles of the media within civil rights. Speakers included civil right leaders, community and political representatives. There where keynote addresses from Irish President Mary McAleese and Professor Kader Asmal, former Minister of Education in the South African Government, John Hume, Ivan Cooper, Nell McCafferty, Patricia McKeown, Monica McWilliams, Maurice Manning, Mark Durkan, Martin McGuinness and Gregory Campbell.
2009 and onwards
‘In 2009, the ‘International Year of Reconciliation’ was held - the day was marked by a massive number of white doves being distributed after a formal presentation at the United Nations, bearing in mind the Charter of the United Nations, including the purposes and principles contained therein, and in particular those of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war, bringing about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace, and practicing tolerance and living together in peace with one another as good neighbours, thus developing friendly relations among nations and promoting international cooperation to resolve international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian issues. Vincent Coyle of Derry, Northern Ireland gave his full support’.
During this period, Vincent Coyle’s work in Reconciliation continued and he was involved in a stage play called Release, in which individuals were given an opportunity to talk about their own, personal journey. This received outstanding reviews as Reconciliation through the Arts and Theatre. He was also involved in ‘From the Rubble’ which toured in Britain, Ireland and Europe and was staged at the prestigious 300th Anniversary of the signing of the Utrecht Peace Treaty in the Netherlands.
After 38 years of supporting the families to find truth and justice for there loved one's that were brutally killed/injured on Blood Sunday. On the 15th June 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron apoligizes to the north of Ireland. "The Bloody Sunday killings were unjustified and unjustifiable" Vincent to this day continuously campaigns for those who carried out these brutal acts to face a court of law so that justice can be seen to be done. Vincent also campagins for all victims around the world.
Vincent together with his mother Jane honord by the President of Ireland, Micheal D Higgins with his wife Sabina that are supporters of Reconciliation Day.
Just like Vincent coyle, Michael D. Higgins has campaigned for human rights and for the promotion of peace and democracy in Ireland and in many other parts of the world. In 1992, Michael D. Higgins was the first recipient of the Seán MacBride Peace Prize from the International Peace Bureau in Helsinki, in recognition of his work for peace and justice in many parts of the world.
Vincent Coyle performed in a stage play "Release" to highlight the need for Truth with Justice, to the pathway of Reconciliation which was also made into a film. Release told the story of the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland through the eyes and stories of 6 remarkable men as they shared there true life experiences publicly.
"This film is so much more than a documentary of how this all came together. It is an elegiac poem about the nature of interconnectedness, about suffering, about finding peace with one another and within yourself." - Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, Northern Ireland, Kathryn Stone, OBE.
The Faith and Politics Group from the United States visited Derry in Northern Ireland on a pilgrimage as part of a tribute to the legendary Civil Rights Leader John Hume. Vincent Coyle and John Hume joined Senator John Lewis together with the Group on the Peace Bridge to hold the tribute.
Congressman John Lewis is the only living “Big Six” leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, having been the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), playing a key role in the struggle to end legalized racial discrimation and segregation. The pilgrimage took in visits to the Battle of the Boyne, Derry and Belfast
28 March 2015
Vincent Coyle supported the 1st ever Day of Reconciliation in South Carolina, Columbia, United States with Major Stephen K. Benjamin and the communities of all races attented to help reconciliation through each other and to bring financial and social inclusion with social justice for all. It is Vincent's intention to hold a Reconciliation Day event throughout every state of America. He has garnered hudge support in the USA for reconciliation day.
Vincent Coyle was invited and attended the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta at Runnymede Meadow in the United Kingdom. It was also to rededicate the monument gifted by the American Bar Association and was attended by many american dignitaries included the President William C. Hubbard of the bar and Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the United States.
Vincent also paid a visit to the John F Kennedy Memorial in tribute to a hero of the Civil Rights situated at Runnymede, the meadow on the banks of the Thames where King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215.
Vincent Coyle attended the commemoration of the 9/11 attacks in NYC
Vincent Coyle was invited and attended the United Nations 70th Anniversary in New York City Vincent was also involved in ’Human’ the film with Yann Arthus Bertrand. Human was launched globally from the United Nations Building and supported by launching via Google
Vincent Coyle returned to the ‘Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church’ to give his condolences on the tragic massacre that had happened in June. He presented the Church with the Seal from Derry as a sign of Reconciliation.
Vincent Coyle carried out a Reconciliation Day world Tour; he visited 25 countries during 2016 – ‘meeting old and making new friends’ - in order to promote and spread awareness of Reconciliation globally which is celebrated on the third Saturday on the month of Ocotber.
I hope this gives you a clearer understanding of some of the work Vincent Coyle and Reconciliation Day is invloved in around the world as Vincent believes reconciliation is a personal journey that drives us forward to a international stage to help build upon a better world through Truth, Justice and Financial and Social Inclusion to Environmental Awareness.