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'Flanders the ideal setting' for Stormont politicians to reach a compromise

By Amanda Ferguson

Stormont politicians should journey to Flanders in Belgium to reflect as they try to complete the inter-party talks, the head of a peace-building charity has suggested.

Co-operation Ireland chief executive Peter Sheridan says the peaceful atmosphere of war memorials in Flanders could inspire Northern Ireland's political parties to find agreement.

This comes after Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny left the talks in Northern Ireland on Friday saying a deal had not been possible on disputes over flags, parades, the past and finance.

The Island of Ireland Peace Choir, supported by Co-operation Ireland, performed an impromptu rendition of Danny Boy at the Menin Gate Memorial yesterday during a trip to Belgium.

Peter Sheridan said: "I can't help but reflect that with the very serenity of this place, if all of our politicians were here, in some ways it might make that generosity of spirit easier."

The 40 members of the choir also visited a new memorial just outside Messines, instigated by sports international governing body UEFA.

The memorial marks the story of the Christmas truce in 1914 during the First World War.

The words Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht, are surmounted by a stone football, as reminders of how the British and German soldiers sang carols and left their trenches in order to play a game of football.

During their trip to Belgium the peace choir also performed Silent Night in English, German and Irish in Messines at a special ceremony which they are hoping could now become an annual event.

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