Belfast Telegraph

Joanna Lumley blasts return of hard border in Ireland as she joins the Dalai Lama in Londonderry

By Donna Deeney

Joanna Lumley has said there should be no return of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Absolutely Fabulous star joined the Dalai Lama in Londonderry to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Children in Crossfire charity, which helps impoverished young people in the developing world.

The Derry-based charity was set up by Richard Moore, who was blinded aged 10 in 1972 as he walked home from school by a rubber bullet fired by a soldier.

Mr Moore - who has previously been described as "my hero" by the Dalai Lama - has family connections in Co Donegal, just across the border from the Maiden City.

As negotiations over Brexit continue, many people and businesses in Derry have expressed serious concerns over how a return to the customs borders of the past could affect them.

The border city will be one of the worst hit if hard frontier controls are reintroduced on porous and invisible crossing points.

Ms Lumley said: "I don't think we - and that means all of us - should allow that border to be returned."

"People say, 'Oh, but it is Brexit and stuff'.

"The European Union was set up by the people who make the rules and it can be picked apart by people who made the rules.

"That border does not actually exist, borders actually do not exist in the world - we have invented them.

"We have named these people this name and those people that name, got a piece of paper to go between, 'Oh, your government does not like this'.

"The border will not come back and if we can agree that, then that will be that."

The actress also voiced her support for the work being carried out by Children in Crossfire and said she has, like the Dalai Lama, been a long-time admirer of the organisation's founder, Mr Moore.

She said a speaker from Ethiopia had been denied access to speak at the Londonderry conference.

She added: "What is happening to us? This is crazy, so the first thing we say is that there will be no further border, we go on, we deal with whatever it is, the border will not come back."

Earlier, the Dalai Lama had called for morals and ethics to be added to the curriculum of secular schools.

He said: "Unfortunately the existing education system is about material wealth and not inner health so now the education system should include the taking care of our mental health.

"This should include the emotions, all the trouble start with emotions - anger, hate, fear.

"People think anger is our nature, but our basic nature is more about compassion and the reality is we have to live side by side on this planet.

"Whether or not we like each other we have to live side by side so use common sense and use our intelligence and not anger and violence.

"With warm heartedness and intelligence combined I think we can work out all difficulties.

"Secular eduction should include moral education, moral ethics - this will lead to a happier person, happier family and a happier community."

Mr Moore said the importance of the Dalai Lama's visit was enormous.

"At the centre of what his holiness is about is trying to help others raise issues around children that suffer from the injustice of poverty," he said.

"In 2010, his holiness talked about the importance of educating the heart and the work we have engaged in since then is trying to help children is to engage with global poverty issues not only from the mind but from the heart.

"Only when you connect the heart and the mind will you have a more sustainable and authentic approach to how we solve poverty.

"His holiness being in Derry will draw attention to children in the parts of the world that Children in Crossfire are trying to help and also help move forward that we need to respond to the need of others not just from the mind but also from the heart," he added.

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