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International Fund for Ireland’s contribution to peace captured in new book

Published on:  06 Nov 2008

A new book which captures the story of the International Fund for Ireland’s work over the last 21 years was launched last night at a special reception in Iveagh House, hosted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin, T.D. and Mr. Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland. 

‘A Fund of Goodwill’, which has been written by award winning author Alf McCreary, documents the IFI’s history from its inception in 1986, as well as focusing on some of its specific interventions, showing the human impact of its work.

The book records the Fund’s work in promoting peacebuilding and delivering on its initial aims of promoting contact, dialogue and reconciliation between nationalists and unionists on the island of Ireland and economic and social advance.

In addition to this historical record, chapters are devoted to the story behind some of the IFI’s most notable interventions including the Shannon Erne Waterway, the Wider Horizons Programme which has brought together many thousands of young people from both communities, North and South; economic and reconciliation based initiatives in County Donegal; work with communities coping with the aftermath of violence arising from the Troubles and the IFI’s contribution to building positive cross community and cross border relationships.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheál Martin, T.D., praised the incredible work and achievements of the International Fund for Ireland and said “The remarkable story of the IFI is a story of many different strands, not least of the ties between Ireland and our friends abroad, of the enduring goodwill of the Irish diaspora, and of the desire by so many people to help us to overcome our difficulties during the troubles.
We are grateful to all of the Fund’s donors-  the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - both for their generous material support for the IFI and for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the long search for a peaceful resolution to the political difficulties on this island. The legacy and the achievements of the IFI are a tribute to them.
For twenty-two years now the IFI has carried out its work with tenacity, compassion, vision and unswerving loyalty to its key principles. Its many imaginative programmes and projects have always placed core emphasis on cross-community and cross-border relationships. The IFI has invested over €850 million in Northern Ireland and the border counties, a sum that has enabled a much greater amount be leveraged in support of joint projects with other bodies’’.
Noting the presence of John Hume at the event, Minister Martin , said:
“It is both a great pleasure and honour for me to welcome John here tonight. From the earliest days of the Troubles, John was unflinching in his efforts to secure international assistance that would help break the cycle of economic decline, despair and violence. It is to John that we owe so much of the progress in recent years, not just in economic support; not only in terms of a political solution to the Troubles; but in ending alienation and exclusion and in saving our young people from re-living the mistakes of their forebears".

Welcoming the book’s publication, Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund, said: “A Fund of Goodwill’ is more than a history of the International Fund – it provides a unique insight into our social history, highlighting very poignantly, the changes and challenges which Northern Ireland and the border counties have faced over the last twenty years.

The International Fund was never intended to be a permanent intervention and it is appropriate that its experiences over the last two decades are captured as we move into our final years, not least in the hope that they may be of value to other regions coping with conflict. It is also a fitting testament to the contribution and support of our international donors.”

The book’s author Alf McCreary said: “The International Fund’s story is one of co-operation on many levels, not only politically and economically, but also across the divides within communities and across the border. It is a complex story but also an inspiring story of how so many people committed themselves to doing their best in the worst of times.”

“It is my hope that this book has done justice to the story, and that it leaves an important record of a remarkable institution which emerged from a period of sustained conflict and which has played a part in helping to create an atmosphere of co-operation in which peace could blossom.”

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