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By Paul Ainsworth

THE founder of a South Belfast-based cross-community organisation who passed away this week has been described as a “huge inspiration” to the peace process.

Dr Ray Davy, who hailed from the Finaghy/Dunmurry area, was the founder of the Corrymeela Community, which for decades helped build bridges between the two communities in the North as well as in troubled spots overseas.

Based in Upper Crescent’s Corrymeela House, the organisation also own a retreat centre in Ballycastle which houses over 6,000 visitors each year for cross-community activities.

Dr Davies, who was a former prisoner of war and a Chaplain at Queen’s University, passed away as he slept at home on Monday. He was aged 95 and had retired as leader of Corrymeela in 1980.

Speaking to the South Belfast News, current head of Corrymeela, Dr Inderjit Bhogal said Ray was inspired to dedicate his life to peace building after witnessing the horrors of the bombing of Dresden in Germany at first hand.

“He was working there as a Pastor and became a prisoner during the war, and what he saw guided him to the work he is famous for,” he explained.

“He knew there had to be an alternative to violent conflict, and Ray decided to create a better place where people from different cultures and backgrounds could meet together and experience new ways of dealing with difference.

“A huge inspiration to the peace process, he worked hard to build good relationships here and he will always be an icon of reconciliation.”

During his career, Ray met with the Dalai Llama who praised his contribution to the quest for peace here. South Belfast Alliance Councillor Cathy Curran said his legacy is evident in a new generation of politicians.

“I have very fond memories of going away with Corrymeela when I was younger,” she said.

“What I experienced there definitely shaped my views, and showed me that there was more to our society than divisions. Ray was a wonderful man, and his legacy will continue to influence young people here for generations.”

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