Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness taught us a lesson at @cooperationirl dinner last night by…

…demonstrating that it is possible that extreme differences of opinion on the one hand and personal engagement or even friendship on the other, are not mutually exclusive in politics, business or indeed family life. My Dad (1925 – 1986), having witnessed the Birth of a Nation, a World War and The Troubles would be stunned to hear, if by some magic he could, that I sat at a dinner in The Dorchester Hotel last night listening to two people from opposite ends of the political divide speak warmly of each other, if not of each others views. That Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley, before he died, became friends would for my Dad, and indeed for many, have beggared belief. That these changes are possible is in part testimony to the dogged work the Co-Operation Ireland Charity has done over the last thirty years to help build peace. With The Queen and The President of Ireland as Joint Patrons, the Charity has played a crucial role in creating an environment for dialogue. If you feel a sudden impulse to donate to Co-Operation Ireland, of which I’ve been a junior rank and file local member for a number of years, please feel reassured that you can yield to that temptation safe in the knowledge that your money will make a difference and you can do so now, and do so HERE. The other part of this story is that leaders of all organisations can learn that they too can build “peace” within their boards and their teams by applying some of the principles that these two leaders used in a different context, albeit an extreme one. If Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness can find a way of working together, anyone can.

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