We call upon decision-makers in Belfast, London, Dublin and Brussels (the UK, Ireland and the EU) to support the proposal to grant Northern Ireland ‘Honorary EU Association’ as a ‘European Place of Global Peace-building’.

The aim is to protect peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland; to ensure respect for the European rights and fundamental freedoms of Northern Ireland citizens; to guarantee freedom of movement between the UK and Ireland and to safeguard the spirit of good relations and cooperation between the UK, Ireland and the EU enshrined in the Good Friday Belfast Agreement.

‘Honorary EU Association’ should allow this to be achieved by retaining the status of Northern Ireland as part of the EU, part of the UK and part of the British/Irish and North/South Council in keeping with the Good Friday Belfast Agreement. It would respect the will of the people of Northern Ireland who voted to stay in the EU, keep the Irish border open and recognise the right of those who wish to retain EU citizenship as British and/or Irish citizens.

Associate EU membership should permit Northern Ireland to stay in the Customs Union, the Single Market and the Common Travel Area and find ways to allow the freedom of movement of people, goods, capital and services East/West and North/South of the British Isles.  It should guarantee support for farmers, fisheries, research, student exchange and other economic and social imperatives and ensure and extend funding for cross-community, cross border and global PEACE outreach programmes.

The mission is to promote peace-building worldwide by creating an EU-led global peace initiative launched from Northern Ireland and modelled on the EU PEACE Programme. At operational level,  it would dovetail with the EU Solidarity Corps, reflect the success of ERASMUS and compliment EU defence and security action in conflict zones. It would set up an EU peace centre in Northern Ireland working with peace-building groups and civil society actors locally and throughout the world.

Named ‘White Dove’, after Columbanus, the first ever European, the initiative would include a European ‘path of peace’ from Northern Ireland to Nicosia.  Marked by a White Dove statue flying from Bangor, the path of peace would follow in the footsteps of Columbanus and go beyond to pass through areas profoundly touched by war and conflict from Flanders fields through the Balkans to Cyprus. It would be launched in 2018 to mark EU Year of Cultural Heritage, the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Belfast Agreement and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

In this way, White Dove would spread the EU message of peace worldwide. In keeping with the EU’s Nobel Prize winning peace model in the aftermath of world war, White Dove would not only be a legacy to EU peace building in Northern Ireland and conflict zones throughout the world but also a way to promote the EU values of reconciliation, mutual respect, dignity, understanding and tolerance at every level of society. It would also be a new vision for the European Union and a worldwide message of hope in these increasingly challenging times.