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£17.6 million approved by the International Fund for Ireland

Published on:  19 Nov 2007

The Board of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) has today announced funding approval of over STG 17.6 million (EUR 25.7 million) to support a range of new and existing community integration and reconciliation-based projects throughout Northern Ireland and the six Southern border counties.

Commenting on the International Fund’s decision to approve this round of funding, Denis Rooney, Chairman, the International Fund for Ireland said: “The funding now unveiled reinforces the Fund’s stated strategy and aims. It reflects how we are moving forward from the problems which many of us have lived through and these funds will further help to spur on the process of reconciliation on the island of Ireland. Much of the funding unveiled today, directed at youth based programmes, shows the long term commitment of the International Fund to the process of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border counties.”

The IFI approved STG 6.6 million (EUR 9.6 million) for the Knowledge through Enterprise for Youth (KEY) and Learning and Educating Together (LET) programmes. The KEY and LET programmes, managed by Young Enterprise Northern Ireland and Junior Achievement Ireland, bring together young people aged between 12 and 16 from both communities and both sides of the border, in order to develop a range of personal and business skills, together with a better mutual understanding of each other.  An independent evaluation of these activities in recent years has shown all programme aims and objectives are being achieved, and indeed exceeded.

Speaking on behalf of the programme managers for KEY and LET, Della Clancy, executive director, Junior Achievement Ireland, said: "We very much welcome this contribution by the IFI which allows us to continue our work until 2011 promoting mutual understanding among school pupils from North and South."

An Teach Ban will receive funding of up to STG 1.37m (EUR £2 million) for a project that involves the construction of a new centre for the group in Downings, Co. Donegal. This will involve the demolition of the existing building and the construction of a brand new state of the art conference, meeting and accommodation centre.

An Teach Ban Centre for Peace Building has a proven track record in community peace building. This new “fit for purpose” peace building centre will carry forward the strengths and unique characteristics of An Teach Ban. In so doing the project will sustain the work of the centre in promoting cross community reconciliation, keeping the centre as a community resource while helping to increase cross border partnerships.

The Cross Border Digital Learning Network, also based in Donegal, will receive over STG 295,000 (EUR 430,000) in funding to equip 5 learning centres with video conferencing facilities and project management costs.

The Cross Border Digital Learning Network project is delivered under the auspices of the Tyrone Donegal Partnership. It will involve the extending of the World Bank Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) available in Omagh to community learning centres in Donegal. This project will provide local access to a wide range of courses covering subjects such as conflict management, citizenship, personal development, conflict resolution, peace and reconciliation and community development. The project will further help to overcome three of the main barriers to education and development in rural border areas – the border itself, travel distance and lack of critical mass to run and support programmes in rural areas.

Other groups to benefit from this recent round of funding including Finaghy Cross Roads and St. Columb’s Park house in Northern Ireland.

Finaghy Crossroads Group is a cross community organisation based on the Lisburn Road, Belfast, at Finaghy Crossroads, an area of community tension. The group, which has been allocated STG 249,662 (EUR 364,506) seeks to reduce local violence and stabilise the area for both communities and is striving for a village where all people from all communities feel safe.

St Columb’s Park House is an 18th century Manor House in an area of parkland of the same name in the Waterside area in Derry. Since 1994 it has been a residential centre of reconciliation and a safe neutral space. The IFI’s latest funding investment in this initiative, which will amount to STG 819,507 (EUR 1.2million) is two fold. Firstly, via the Community Bridges Programme, a 3 year project, working with communities in the northwest, to reduce the levels of anti social and sectarian behaviour will be supported. Secondly, a capital grant from the Fund's Legacy Programme, towards the redevelopment and extension of the residential centre will be made.

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