Peace and Solidarity
We had a very different Council meeting yesterday, which for those interested is still available to watch online on the City Council's website. Not surprisingly the appalling and tragic events in Paris dominated the early proceedings. However, the Council sought not only to express our solidarity with Paris and the victims of terrorism wherever they are in the world, but also to reaffirm our commitment to being a city of peace and to celebrate the diversity that makes Manchester such a wonderful place.
Councillors came into the Council Chamber to the site of the Tricolore on the video screens emblazoned with the words liberté, égalité, fraternité. The meeting began with prayers from five different faith groups and then a minutes silence, followed by French harpist Marie Leenhardt, principal harpist for the Halle Orchestra playing a piece by French composer Erik Satie. There were short but powerful speeches from Guy Robson from Alliance Francaise, Jean-Noel Ezingeard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Manchester Metropolitan University, Robin Stene, A French trader from the Christmas market, and Moin Azri, Vice-Chair of the Manchester Council of Mosques, rounded of by Marie with a piece by Debussy.
Councillors then heard from Sean Morris about last weekend's visit to Manchester by the Mayor of Hiroshima, President of World Cities for Peace, a global organisation of cities, of which Manchester is a Vice-president. Outside the chamber was an exhibition of unique paintings made by Hiroshima schoolchildren, survivors, not long after the dropping of the atomic bomb on their city, remarkable in many ways for their ordinariness, but paintings that I hope can be more widely exhibited in the city.
This was followed by a presentation by pupils, parents and teachers from three primary schools, St.Mary's in Moss Side, and Haverley Hey and the Willows in Wythenshawe, who have been working together focussing on the rights of the child and building community cohesion. The confidence and clarity of the young people was amazing and should give us confidence for the city's future. Last but not least, in this section of the Council, two members of the Age Friendly Manchester steering group presented the Lord Mayor with a framed copy of the Age Friendly Manchester Charter, something that was formally ratified later in the meeting.
There was some ordinary business too including debates on the age friendly city, the housing crisis and anti trade union legislation currently before parliament, but not in any way an ordinary meeting.