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Building Integration

on .


Despite a new era of political and civic stability, communities throughout Northern Ireland and the southern border counties remain deeply divided, with many people living, learning and working separately.

The International Fund for Ireland is committed to developing and funding a series of pioneering initiatives across housing, education and community groups that improve opportunities for sharing. This series of programmes promotes integration and supports lasting and sustainable peace.


The Shared Neighbourhood Programme

In August 2008, the International Fund for Ireland launched the Shared Neighbourhood Programme, a major new Programme to support and encourage shared neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland.

The Programme is managed by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive who is working with existing communities to develop 30 shared neighbourhoods over three years.

The Programme provides grants to enable community organisations to celebrate diversity and bring together people, from all backgrounds who live in these areas. Participants also benefit from community relations training, community consultations and support to design their own Neighbourhood Charter and deliver their own Good Relations Programme. Training and practical on-the-ground support are provided by the Housing Executive via a dedicated team of Cohesion Advisers.

At the time of its launch in August 2008, five housing areas across Northern Ireland had committed to participating in the Programme. In June 2009, a further 11 housing areas were announced as participants in the initiative and by September 2010  a further 14 areas committed to the Shared Neighbourhood Programme.

This Programme is now closed.

The Building Peace through the Arts – Re-Imaging Communities Programme

The Building Peace through the Arts -Re-imaging Communities Programme which contributes to the re-imaging of communities in Northern Ireland and in the southern border counties in order to make them more welcoming to all. The Programme brings together artists and local people to eradicate displays of sectarianism in their communities and to create attractive public spaces which enhance the physical and natural environment and help people to feel part of the community in which they live.

The consortium supporting the programme includes the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the International Fund for Ireland and the Special EU Programmes Body under the PEACE III Programme, for which the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) is the accountable Department but which also includes the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in Dáil Éireann. Other consortium members include the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Community Relations Council (CRC), POBAL and the Arts Council Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

The programme follows on from the Re-Imaging Communities Programme (2007 – 2009) and is of relevance to artists, community and voluntary groups and local authorities with applications encouraged from projects that have a rural and / or cross border focus. Priorities include projects that are cross-community; inter-community; intercultural; cross-border; targeting youth groups; targeting ethnic minority groups.

For further information on the Building Peace through the Arts- Re-imaging Communities Programme please contact:

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland 
Mac Niece House 
77 Malone Road 
BT9 6AQ 
Tel: + 44 (0) 28 9038 5200 



The Sharing in Education Programme 

The Sharing in Education Programme supports the strategic objectives of the International Fund for Ireland by providing support for projects that enable young people to participate in shared educational experiences.

The Programme is managed by the Department of Education who work with providers in education, registered youth organisations and related services to support educational experiences which are shared between young people representative of the two communities, where reconciliation is an overriding objective.

The Sharing in Education Programme aligns with the Department’s role to promote personal well-being and social development, so that children gain the knowledge, skills and experience to reach their full potential as valued individuals and active citizens.

It seeks to break down the barriers arising from our historic conflict by providing a range of opportunities for young people to learn together and reach the highest possible standards of educational achievement.

The Programme encompasses pre-school, primary, post-primary and special education; the promotion of community relations within and between schools; and teacher education.

The Department of Education acts as agent for the Fund for applications made under the Sharing in Education Programme.

This programme is now closed to applications.

For more information on the Sharing in Education Programme, please contact:

Department of Education
International Fund for Ireland Liaison Team
Rathgael House
Balloo Road
BT19 7PR
Tel: + 44 (0) 28 9127 9508
Fax: + 44 (0) 28 9127 9466
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Case Study:

article thumbnailThe PIEE Project is a 3-year cross-community initiative which promotes shared education and provides links for schools from different community backgrounds, to enable them to learn and work together.

The Sharing Education Programme

The Sharing Education Programme is a pilot programme that encourages schools to find new models of ‘sharing education’ which offer additional educational and academic opportunities for students and in doing so provide opportunities to build greater cross-community engagement and reconciliation.

Each of the 12 Specialist Schools (i.e. 12 post primary schools delegated by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland as having particular expertise in the teaching of a curricular subject) is required to develop a number of partner schools (including cross-sector) to collaborate and provide opportunities for regular contact, mutual understanding and reconciliation between the school communities.

The Sharing Education Programme is managed, on behalf of the Fund, by Queen’s University, Belfast.

This Programme is now closed to applications.

The Respecting Difference Programme

The Respecting Difference Programme is aimed at instilling a tolerant attitude and a respect for difference among young children in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties that will last throughout their lives.

Developed by Early Years, the organisation for young children, the Programme uses cartoons and interactive play materials to help young children understand and respect those who are different and encourage inclusion in a simple and child-friendly way.

With funding from the International Fund for Ireland, the Respecting Difference Programme will reach over 5,000 pre-school children and parents and 240 pre-school teachers over the next three years across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.

This Programm is now closed.

Community Groups

The Integrating Community Organisations Programme

The Fund’s Sharing this Space strategy identified the integration of community organisations as a key means of promoting social integration and reconciliation. In recent years the International Fund for Ireland has developed its Integrating Community Organisations Programme in partnership with the Rural Development Council (RDC).

The Programme aims to encourage community organisations from each side of the community to work together in a spirit of co-operation. Where groups are already working together, the Programme aims to deepen the level of co-operation and encourage if possible a merger. For groups that come to the initiative without a partner, the Programme helps them to develop close links with a group from the other community.

The Programme offers training, support and mentoring to strengthen partnerships as well as creating opportunities for small joint projects that will bring mutual benefit to both groups and their respective areas.

This Programme is now closed.

Case Study:

article thumbnailCREDIT (Classrooms Re-imagined: Education in Diversity and Inclusion for Teachers) is a project jointly run by teacher training colleges Stranmillis University College and St Mary’s University College.The core aim of the project is to provide in-service courses for teachers across Northern Ireland in nursery, primary and post-primary schools to help them develop awareness and practical skills in dealing with division, diversity, inclusion and community relations/reconciliation in the classroom and...
Orne Community Partnership
Monday, 11 March 2013
article thumbnailAlthough they are sited less than three miles apart, Ophir Rugby Club at Mallusk, just north of Belfast, and St Enda’s GAA Club from Newtownabbey’s Hightown Road area, had little or no  contact until they agreed to take part in the International Fund for Ireland’s Integrating Community Organisations Programme.
Moving Forward Together
Sunday, 01 July 2012
article thumbnailLast year, Youth Work Ireland based in Castleblayney, County Monaghan, joined forces as lead partner with Dee Street Community Centre in East Belfast and the Clones Erne East Partnership on the Monaghan Fermanagh border, to deliver a youth-focused project. The Youth for Peace - Moving Forward Together Project as it is called, was designed to provide opportunities for contact and dialogue between young people aged 12-25, from Unionist and Nationalist backgrounds across the three areas/regions.
Carntogher and Kilcronaghan
Sunday, 01 July 2012
article thumbnailCarntogher and Kilcronaghan are two small rural communities situated just five miles apart in County Londonderry/Derry. Both areas were affected significantly by the mutual mistrust and sometimes hostility that developed during the Troubles.
The Hand of Friendship Project
Sunday, 01 July 2012
article thumbnailThe Hand of Friendship Project is a three-year, cross-sectoral, cross-border initiative which provides school pupils with an opportunity to make friendships with children from a different background and culture while helping to instil positive attitudes that will stay with them into adulthood.
article thumbnailTwo women’s groups from different sides of the community and based in areas which have witnessed some of the worst of the Troubles have started working together to bring about long-term positive change within their local communities.