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Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Northern Ireland Assembly Branch

Richard Hargy
Northern Ireland delegate to the Cyprus Nkabom Conference 2008
Report to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Northern Ireland Branch  

 Conference Report

I want to begin by stating that my time in Cyprus in September of this year was one of the best experiences of my life. I want to thank the CPA Northern Ireland branch for providing me with this once in a life time opportunity.

I was the only person from Northern Ireland on this conference. There were another seven people from mainland Great Britain. The rest of the delegates where from every corner of the globe – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Malta, Cyrus, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, and Lesotho.

We made visits to the UN Buffer Zone in the Cypriot Capital Nicosia, as well as to the UN base in Nicosia where we had a briefing and tour from British Army troops. We met and had a question and answer session with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Dimitris Christofias in his Presidential Palace. Moreover, we met with Mehmet Ali Talat the current President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in his, less impressive, Presidential Palace.

The conference delegates also spent time with United Nations diplomats in the UN Buffer Zone. This was extremely beneficial to all of us as we walked away with increased and improved knowledge and skills in diplomatic language and educational tools.

A significant amount of the conference time was spent in the University of Nicosia. Here we heard from local Cypriot young people who shared their experiences of living on a ‘divided island’. Coming from Northern Ireland I found this particularly interesting.

Furthermore, at the University I made my own key contribution to the conference by giving a 20 minute presentation on the ‘Northern Ireland Conflict’. The delegates were extremely receptive to this presentation. The conference organizers thank me for this.

The conference delegates spent equal amounts of time travelling between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for different talks and workshops.

Another significant amount of our time was spent working with the British Council in Cyprus at the University of Nicosia. Together with them, we put together individual digital-tales.

I learnt a considerable amount from my fellow delegates. Most of them are likely to enter into public service in one form or another.

Plans are now in place and meetings have been held to discuss how the Nkabom 2008 delegates can further the excellent work we undertook in Cyprus. A meeting was held in London last month and there are plans to use online resources to keep all delegates in touch with strategies for further projects.

Can I once again thank the CPA Northern Ireland branch for sending me to Cyprus and giving me this very special opportunity.


Richard Hargy