Government officials, politicians and peacemakers gathered today to celebrate the official reopening of an historic residential peace and reconciliation centre in Londonderry.
The 18th century St. Columb’s Park House in the Waterside area of the city re-opened its doors following a major £1 million overhaul that will support a wide range of cross-community youth and voluntary activities.
The revamp brings new-look facilities to the historic manor house including four state-of-the-art conference rooms that can accommodate up to 150 delegates, new communal areas and upgraded dormitory accommodation with en-suite facilities catering for 55 people. A modern new cafe will also be open to the public and the building will be fully wheelchair accessible.
The building will also allow provide new office space for peace building and social enterprise organisation St Columb’s Park Reconciliation Trust, which is headquartered in the centre. Commercial use of the conferencing facilities will support the Trust’s delivery of charitable and community activities. The Trust’s peace building activities impact people throughout the island of Ireland and beyond.
The International Fund for Ireland provided £650,000 financial assistance towards the upgrade with the Department of Social Development’s Modernisation Fund contributing £160,012, the Northern Ireland Environmental Association donating £22,225, the Arts Council Cultural Fund putting forward £31,317 and Derry City Council funding £156,408.
Speaking at the event, Dr Adrian Johnston, chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “Today is a great achievement in enhancing the regeneration of Derry. The opening of St Columb’s Park House is also a very timely boost for community development and community relations and for the city leading up to the 2013 UK City of Culture celebrations. On behalf of the International Fund for Ireland I pay tribute to the work of all at St Columb’s Park House and the significant contribution they have made towards peace building and reconciliation. Its many social inclusion programmes , a number of which are supported by the Fund, have brought great cross-community change across the generations. I am confident that these new facilities will provide all who work here with the facilities they need to continue their excellent work.”
Brian Dougherty from St. Columb’s Park Reconciliation Trust added: “We are delighted with the work that has been carried out at St. Columb’s and grateful to all of the sponsors including the International Fund for Ireland, who have been largely responsible for the success of this project.
“The new state-of-the-art facilities not only give us the tools to continue with innovative community work but also provide inspiration to encourage positive and lasting results within and across both sides of the divide in Derry.”
Mayor, Cllr Kevin Campbell speaking at the reopening event today said: “I am delighted to attend this event to mark what is an exciting time for St Columb’s Park House and as we prepare for the approach of 2013 and the City of Culture. I thoroughly welcome the renovations to this historic building, the use of which as a centre for reconciliation and a safe venue is well suited to the stunning surroundings of St Columb’s Park. The refurbishment and extension of this 18th Century building, which will benefit from the provision of additional conference and accommodation facilities, is aptly timed to facilitate events during the City of Culture next year. It could not be better located situated as it is within sixty acres of woodland and green space at St Columb’s Park and now intrinsically linked to the city centre by our iconic Peace Bridge.”
St Columb’s Park House received financial assistance from the International Fund for Ireland which was delivered by the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council (RDC).
For further information about our funding programmes, or for information on how to apply for funding, please contact the person(s) or organisation(s) identifed at the end of the relevant programme summary in the areas of activity section.
International Fund for Ireland
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