A man blinded by a rubber bullet as a child in the 1970s who has dedicated his life to helping other children caught up in conflict zones across the world was described as “my hero” by the Dalai Lama in Londondery.
Richard Moore, founder of the charity Children in Crossfire, was struck between the eyes by the projectile while on his way home from school, aged just 10, in May 1972.
The 14th Dalai Lama visited Londonderry this week to mark 20 years since the foundation of Children in Crossfire, who help children in Africa, Asia, and South America.
At a press conference in the City Hotel on Tuesday, his Holiness grasped Mr Doherty by the hand and said: “A very, very young boy. A rubber bullet hit, eyesight gone. At that moment, no anger, so I really admire (him). I describe him as my hero.”
Mr Moore in 2006 met, forgave and befriended the soldier who had fired the rubber bullet that blinded him.
The Tibetan spiritual leader said: “That tragic experience now brings more enthusiasm to serve, to help thousands of other children.
“That is such an experience. You could be full of anger and demoralised.”
The Dalai Lama was also asked whether he was concerned about the future of the peace process in light of the lack of local government here in Northern Ireland.
While he acknowledged he did not know the precise details of what was going on in Northern Ireland right now, he urged calm discussion.
“I do not know the details of your situation,” his Holiness said. “Each country belongs to its people. Not kings or queens or spiritual leaders, not they.”
He added: “With too much motion, you can’t see the reality.
“No emotion, calm mind, try to look at the situation more realistically. That is important not only in the Northern Ireland case, Tibet also. “