The International Fund for Ireland (IFI) has today issued a strong message to the Reconciliation Sector in Ireland, in which it warned of the urgent need to achieve demonstrable and sustainable results from the substantial investment in the reconciliation process across Northern Ireland and the border counties.
The funding pot available to many worthwhile projects is shrinking and this trend is set to continue. The International Fund has called on the private sector, which has benefited from the peace dividend of the past decade, to step up to the mark and demonstrate corporate social responsibility by supporting reconciliation initiatives for the benefit of our society.
Speaking at the Reconciliation Networking Forum, held in Dublin Castle, Mr. Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “Sustainability is a real and immediate challenge for all of us in the reconciliation sector. Reconciliation is a process that can take two or three generations to realise, and we must now begin to address the funding gap which will arise in the coming years. This will require funding to be more targeted and projects and programmes to be designed with long term sustainability in mind.”
In his presentation on the theme of ‘The Future of the Reconciliation Sector’, Rooney highlighted the need to prioritise in the infrastructure of integration and focus less on cosmetic issues. He warned: “If our society has not begun a serious journey towards a comfortable natural integration of the communities and the attainment of relaxed north south relations in the near future, then we can rightly be accused of frittering away the substantial investment to date, because a segregated society will always be prone to periodic flashpoints.”
Rooney called on the private sector and the many businesses and organisations that have benefited to date from the peace dividend, to take on their corporate social responsibilities to “invest in the slow but high yield process of reconciliation.”
The Reconciliation Networking Conference was organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and was attended by many of the key players and stakeholders who work at the ‘coal face’ of reconciliation on the island of Ireland.
Key contributors at the event included the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern TD, who delivered the opening address, Mr. Par Carey TD, Joint Chair of the British Irish Interparliamentary Body, Máirín Colleary, chief executive of Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, Alistair Simpson, former governor of the Apprentice Boys of Derry and current Board member of the Ulster Scots Agency and Denis Bradley, Vice Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
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