Northern Ireland

Prince Charles visits NI peace centre Corrymeela

Image caption Prince Charles told the audience at Corrymeela that "we have all suffered too much" during conflict

Prince Charles has praised the "patient and painful work" to heal divisions at Northern Ireland's oldest peace and reconciliation centre.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall have visited the Corrymeela Centre, as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

It was the Royal couple's final engagement during their four-day trip to the island of Ireland.

Prince Charles said: "It is time that we become the subjects of our history and not its prisoners."

"We have all suffered too much. Too many peoples loved ones have been killed or maimed."

"Surely it is time that we become the subjects of our history and not its prisoners. Surely too, through the roots of Corrymeela, we can discover lessons that can serve as a model to all who strive for peace."

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall ended their four-day trip at Corrymeela Centre in County Antrim

Reconciliation has been a key theme of the prince's four-day visit.

He shook hands with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and visited the site in County Sligo where his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed by the IRA.

The heir to the throne said Northern Ireland's role in ending conflict was a "shining example of what can be achieved" when people commit themselves to peace.

The Corrymeela Centre was founded in 1965 by Ray Davey, the first Presbyterian Dean of Queen's University in Belfast.

In his speech, Prince Charles described him as a "remarkable man".

"It was his vision, or this vision, that led him to establish a place where people of different backgrounds, different political and religious beliefs, could gather to break bread, to work together and talk about the hurts which are too difficult to bear in silence."

'Home for peace'

Colin Craig of the Corrymeela Centre said it has been an emotional visit for the prince.

"In his own life, when he has suffered bereavement, it acts as a deep symbolism for what we're trying to work for, in our 50th year, that the work is still ongoing," he said.

"We need to keep the inspiration that Corrymeela can offer in people's lives."

Corrymeela works with about 11,000 people a year at its residential centre in Ballycastle, County Antrim.

It was opened by former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Terence O'Neill.

Some of the centre's work with families and young people over the last few years has been supported by a fund set up by Countess Mountbatten, in memory of her son Nicholas who was also killed in the August 1979 attack at Mullaghmore.

During their stay in Northern Ireland, the Royal couple also visited Mount Stewart house and gardens in County Down.

Image caption Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were escorted around the gardens of Mount Stewart house

The Prince of Wales is president of the National Trust, and their visit marks the completion of a three-year restoration programme supported by local volunteers.

Image caption Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall cut a cake at Mount Stewart to commemorate the reopening of the house

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