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The International Fund for Ireland makes a massive investment in peace building and reconciliation

Published on:  15 Nov 2010
Fund announces £12m/€14.4m to a wide variety of pioneering initiatives to promote sharing and integration in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties

The International Fund for Ireland has announced £12m/€14.4m to support a wide range of pioneering community relations initiatives in shared education, youth work, community development and re-imaging. The Fund continues to support projects designed to encourage contact, dialogue and reconciliation between Unionists and Nationalists throughout Ireland. The announcement was made following the Fund's recent Board meeting which took place in County Antrim.

Dr Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the Fund, said:

"Today's funding announcement demonstrates the Fund's continued commitment to bringing together people from the Unionist and Nationalist traditions, be it in a classroom, on a youth programme, in housing or through work with local urban and rural communities.

"We recognise the progress that has been made towards building lasting peace in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties, but it is clear that after the long years of civil unrest much of our society remains segregated. The Fund is determined to continue to support initiatives that will help our local communities to learn, work and live together as part of a truly shared and prosperous society.

“A significant proportion, £2.8m/€3.3m, of our latest funding package goes to the Sharing in Education Programme which enables young people from different backgrounds to come together and share educational experiences in the same classroom. In building these closer links from primary school age and upwards, we are trying to foster a greater understanding of and respect for both traditions – to live peaceably in a shared and tolerant society.

"The International Fund for Ireland is committed to supporting those projects that seek to dismantle traditional barriers in an effort to create a truly integrated society that will underpin a lasting peace, long after the Fund ceases to exist."

The International Fund for Ireland's announcement today is of a funding package totalling £12m/€14.4m. The package includes:

  • £3.7m/€4.5m for the Fund's Building Integration Programme. This includes £2.8m/€3.3m for a number of projects which fall under the Sharing in Education Programme, the largest of which is the North Eastern Education & Library Board (NEELB) Partnership, Inclusion, Reconciliation, Citizenship and History (PIRCH) Project. The PIRCH Project will provide for six pairs of non-selective post-primary schools of differing religious traditions to form sustainable collaborative working partnerships with a view to improving community relations in areas where large numbers of the two main traditions live close to one another.
  • Following the success of a three-year pilot for the Re-imaging Communities Programme, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) will receive a further £701,978/€842,373 over three years to continue to help transform the appearance of communities and to help make them more welcoming to all.
  • The Integrating Community Organisations Programme will provide £433,607/€520,328 to several projects to help to maximise cross-community and cross-border contact, shared learning and personal development amongst people primarily from recognised areas of disadvantage, interface areas or socially isolated areas.
  • £4.3m/€5.1m has been allocated under the Fund’s Building Bridges Programme to ensure Young Enterprise Ireland and Junior Achievement Ireland can continue to deliver the Fund’s flagship youth programmes: Knowledge through Enterprise for Youth (KEY) and Learning and Educating Together (LET) for a further two years (2011-13). The programmes focus on creating cross-community and cross-border opportunities for young people aged between 12 and 16.
  • The Fund’s Community Bridges Programme is supporting the Lurgan Youth Providers with a grant of £229,690/€275,628 to fund a strategic two-year Community Relations Youth Project to connect and co-ordinate all community relations, youth and support activity in the deeply divided town of Lurgan.  The Project will encourage those providers that have not engaged in community relations to do so and it will also help to co-ordinate their efforts.
  • £1.7m/€2m will be allocated under Leaving a Legacy to ensure that measureable peace building and reconciliation within and between communities will continue after the Fund ceases to exist. Youth Initiatives in Poleglass will receive £674,517/€809,420 towards the construction of a new fit-for-purpose cross-community youth facility situated between West Belfast and Lisburn.  The new Centre will be a regional base for the organisation and will include a purpose built facility including a youth/conference hall, space for cross-community programmes in music, drama, dance, study visits and school retreats.  Community relations programmes will be offered to other providers using the proposed training rooms and there will be space for one to one or small group mentoring.  A café and entertainment area is also proposed.
  • £1.3m/€1.5m will go towards projects under the Fund’s Community Based Economic and Social Regeneration Programme. This includes five initiatives based in the southern border counties: Cavan (Cavan Community and Voluntary Forum), Leitrim (Ballinaglera Development Company and Cinema North West), and Donegal (BASICC Community and Enterprise Hub and Cashelard Community Development). Two initiatives in Northern Ireland will also receive grants; the East Belfast Partnership Healthy Living Centre and the Peninsula Healthy Living Partnership on the Ards Peninsula. These projects will support community development and sustainable reconciliation through cross-border and cross-community activities which will deliver real change for those living in these disadvantaged regions.
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