World's eyes on Stormont as Run4unity Circles the World

400 young people, an MLA and a bishop took part in the Irish leg of an International fun run promoting peace and universal brotherhood at Stormont Estate on Saturday.

Overall, 100,000 young people took part in the virtual relay race through all the time zones of the world.  Among the runners at Stormont were Bishop Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, and MLA Conall McDevitt from the SDLP party, who came 2nd in the adult section of the 5km run around Stormont.

Speaking at the Youth Festival in the Great Hall of Stormont, Alban Maginness MLA (SDLP) spoke of how the Great Hall had become a symbol of, “partnership to build peace and stability.” 

“It is the same as what you are doing, running for unity: bringing peace and unity in this world.”

The foundation of Run4unity is the Golden Rule present in all the great religions of the world, viz. “Always treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.” 

“It is a wonderful goal.  It is a wonderful action,” remarked Maginness. 

Canon Rev. John Mann from Belfast Cathedral and the leader of the Sikh community in Ireland, Dr Jasbir Singh Puri, also spoke.

Run4unity began in the Fiji Islands, and then the virtual baton passed to Australia.  As one run ended, another began – traversing the globe.  At 3:00pm on Saturday, and as 400 runners lined up outside Stormont, Luxembourg passed the baton to Ireland, through MP Naomi Long. 

Everyone could hear the woman from Luxembourg perfectly, but for a few tense seconds she could not hear the Irish response.  Eventually, the connection was made, Ireland received the baton and the race was on.  At four o’clock, Ireland passed the baton on to Iceland.

After the run, Anna Lo, MLA, presented the prizes to the young people.

Before the run, young people representing North and South, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Sikh, took part in a youth festival in the Great Hall in Stormont.  Ciaran McKinley from North Antrim explained the Maths symbols which helped them live the Golden Rule:  the multiply sign (X) meant multiply friendships, division sign (/) meant sharing, minus sign (-) meant to take away suffering, plus sign (+) meant to build more unity among all, the equal sign (=) meant equality among all, and the percentage sign (%) meant do our best and let God do the rest.

Kulsoom Zaman (19), a Muslim said putting the maths symbols into practice meant, “Loving one another, no matter what world religion or culture we are from.” 

“If we start working together at a young age, we can make changes [that affect] everybody’s lives and not just ourselves,” remarked Unionist MLA Robin Swann.

His words were verified by school Principal Barbara Ward.  Her school, Cross and Passion school, Ballycastle, lived the maths symbols for months leading up to the race, led by one of the pupils, Conleth Burns. 

“It transformed the year,” she said.  “They have come on in leaps and bounds.  What I’ve seen is that this experience has unified the class and they have grown in terms of class spirit and loyalty,” she told ciNews.

At the end of the event, Conleth Burns (14) invited all those present to come to the Run4unity celebration event in Dublin, which is part of the International Eucharistic Congress on Saturday June 16.

In the lead up to the international Run4unity day, local races took place around Ireland, in Newry, Dublin, Meath and Galway, raising thousands of euros for school scholarships for children in Uganda.

by Susan Gately

Picture (by Susan Gately), shows participants of the 2012 Run4unity outside Parliament Building Stormont.

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