THE BAHÁ'ÍS OF DERRY
OPENING OF THE NEW BAHÁ'Í CENTRE
The sign for the new Centre stands out against the brickwork of the
Irish Georgian-style building
The Mayor of Derry,
Councillor Kathleen McCloskey,
cuts the ribbon to formally open
the new Bahá'í Centre,
as Elizabeth Palin,
Chair of the Spiritual Assembly
The official opening of the new Bahá'í Centre at 5 Clarendon Street
took place on 1 May 2003. The first floor premises have been used for
community activities for more than a year and a decision was taken by the
Spiritual Assembly in 2002 to make the situation official, starting with
checking with the fire and planning authorities what needed to be done if
the venue was to be developed into a proper Bahá'í Centre. The authorities
were more than helpful and a programme of upgrading, necessary
alterations, and finally redecoration resulted in a Centre worthy of the
Faith at this stage in its development in Londonderry. It is close to the
city centre and prominently signed.
The Assembly decided that an official opening ceremony should be held.
The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Kathleen McCloskey, was approached and
kindly agreed to ‘do the honours’. Local Bahá'ís, friends, and especially
non-Bahá'ís who had been particularly helpful in the process of
establishing the Centre, were invited. It had been planned to have part of
the ceremony, starting with the ribbon-cutting but at the front door.
However it became a ‘soft day’ (translation for non-Irish readers: the
rain started) so after the Mayor was welcomed by Elizabeth Palin, Chair of
the Assembly, and had cut the ribbon for the benefit of the press and
Bahá'í photographers, proceedings moved to the main meeting room. There
the Mayor delivered a positive and supportive message of greetings, and it
is worth quoting her words in full:
‘Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be here with you on May
Day to celebrate the opening of the new centre here in Clarendon
Street. The Bahá'í community in Derry has been growing in the city
since 1971 and the Bahá'í ethos of unity in diversity is something
that has inspired many people from all walks of life within the
north-west and on a more regional and national basis too.
"Important contributions have been made by the local Bahá'í
community on the proposed appointment of a Commissioner for Children
and the community has also done sterling work in the struggle to
overcome racism, discrimination and prejudice within our city. Your
community adds to the richness and diversity of life within this city
and I look forward to many more years of Bahá'í involvement and good
work within the wider community.
"I wish you all great success with the centre and many happy times
here so now, without further ado, I am delighted to announce the new
Bahá'í Centre open...."
Plaque commemorating opening of the new Bahá'í
Speakers, from L:
Eddie Whiteside and Pat Irvine,
Bahá'í Council for NI;
Chair of the Spiritual Assembly;
Councillor Kathleen McCloskey,
Mayor of Derry;
The message of greetings from the National Spiritual
Assembly of the United Kingdom, read by Derry Bahá'í Joan Catterson,
referred to the new Centre as ‘a focal point of fellowship, love and
activity’, while that from the Republic of Ireland NSA, read by Donegal
Bahá'í Declan Devine, expressed the hope that it would ‘prove a valuable
addition to the life of this historic city’.
Patricia Irvine said a few words of appreciation on behalf of the
Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland and her Council colleague Eddie
Whiteside read the Council's message of greetings, which said in part:
‘The Bahá'í community in Derry is an inspiration for Baha'is
throughout Ireland. Individual members of the community have made
sacrificial contributions to the development of the community in the
United Kingdom, in Ireland and further afield. The community has been a
feature of life in the city for nearly four decades and during that time
has established a reputation for the way that it has handled its
affairs. We are delighted to join with you at this time of celebration
when you officially open your Centre. We know that the Centre will
become a valuable focus for the community in the coming years and it is
our ardent prayer that all your activities in the Centre will be
Finally Dr Keith Munro, who served on the first Spiritual Assembly of
Londonderry when it was established over thirty years ago, and has
continued as a member since, said a few words and the formal part of the
gathering closed with a prayer said by local Bahá'í youth Colin Palin.
A slate plaque commemorating the opening of the Centre has been mounted
on one wall of the meeting room as a lasting memento of the occasion.
The opening of the Centre was well covered in the local media.