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Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Genuine Derryman

by Stephen Miller

As I walked through the dimly lit archway I could begin to vision lights and shadows creating a perfect blend of ambiance in the craft village. This vintage nook is home to quaint coffee houses, restaurants, and local boutiques creating a warm welcoming environment. The peace of the place is surreal. Superior to the mystical peace felt by the ambiance of the village is the palpable peace being negotiated by one man, a man who is courageously dedicated to maintaining the peace and beauty tasted in the atmosphere of Derry, and his team in one of the belonging offices.

Jim Roddy was born in Derry-Londonderry in 1960. Jim was no stranger to the conflicts in his formative childhood. His birth home was on Rossville Street in the Bogside, a street that would later be home to violent conflicts, including the tragically infamous Bloody Sunday. He was born into a generation that would soon be immersed in the “troubles.” Jim’s experience growing up in conflict birthed a deep-rooted indignation that lead to a firm belief in the violent struggle plaguing his home. At the age of 16 Jim made a decision that would change the course of his life, moving to England. This stint away from home, although it was for less than a year, changed Jim’s spotlight away from conflict and to life, family, and future.

The beauty of Derry the CCI works to maintain
Today, Jim Roddy functions as the chief executive of the City Centre Initiative. The organization is the primary management figure in bridging the public and private sectors toward maintaining the city’s culture and civility. Jim, in short, is a people person. Jim Roddy resides in many ways as a great orchestrator for the city of Derry, bringing diverse religious, festive, political, and community parties together to begin dialogues. Because of Jim’s approachability, genuine love of his city, and equal care for all he is known as being a-political. This recognition allows Roddy to be a safe person for all political parties to confide in, negotiate, and dialogue. Whether it is parade details, banner or flag discussions, policing services, or the other numerous city needs, Jim Roddy is pinnacle in the peace building process.

"I've tried to put myself in another person's footsteps."

Jim Roddy and local police officers
Jim Roddy is a notable advocate of quality policing, a controversial matter in Northern Ireland. During the troubles the police force, primarily driven by loyalist agenda, was brutal and malicious. The force tormented the local people of Derry building animosity in the tired, beaten community. Derry’s law enforcement has evolved, and continues to evolve from a police force toward a police service. “Policing should be something we all do,” claims Jim. The people of Derry should look out for themselves and others, and when necessary, local police may intervene as a service to the community. Jim works intimately with local law enforcement in many ways to better the public perception of the police service. A couple of ways in which this happens are by diversifying the police department and building police-community relations. I was amazed at the platform of courage in which Jim leads and negotiates for the betterment of Derry.

"If you want to build something that is long lasting, honesty has to come to the floor."

Jim Roddy is honest, genuine, and inspirational. In my multiple interactions with Jim I have come to know him as a Derryman, an Irishman, a family man, and a friend.

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