Equity Diversity Interdependence
Promoting a Peaceful and Fair
Society based on Reconciliation
and Mutual Trust.
14 September 2011
14 September 2011
Present: Tony Kennedy (Chair) David Russell, Katie Hanlon, Michael Wardlow and Hassan Mansour
Apologies: Tony McCusker, Jonny Byrne, Sinead McShane and Rosie McCorley
In attendance: Ray Mullan, Ellana Tomaso, Patricia O’Neill, Jacqueline Irwin, Dympna McGlade, Bebhinn McKinley, Kelan McClelland and Grace Hamilton
1 Welcome and Apologies
Tony Kennedy (Chair) welcomed those members who were in attendance and noted apologies as stated above.
2 Minutes of the Previous Meeting
Minutes of the previous meeting were taken as read.
3 Presentation – Human Rights and Conflict Transformation - Dr Neil Jarman (Institute of Conflict Research)
Tony Kennedy welcomed Dr Neil Jarman (Institute of Conflict Research) to the meeting. Dr Jarman made a presentation entitled: “Human Rights and Conflict Transformation” to those in attendance. The 100 page report deals with how Human Rights relate to conflict transformation themes and peace building, specifically Northern Ireland.
Discussion of the presentation followed during which there was a consensus that there is a need for Human Rights and Equality to be more explicitly referenced in CRC policy and workloads.
Jacqueline Irwin (Acting CEO of CRC) recommended that there were at least three large pieces of work that could stem from this report, pending on the outcome of Council discussion on the topic:
1. Proofing and drafting Human Rights elements, in collaboration with the NIHRC
2. In terms of CRC work specifically, drafting the issues that are being worked on presently and ascertaining how Human Rights can assist, i.e. looking at constituted rights and what these mean
3. There is a responsibility on the CRC to channel into wider European debates in terms of interculturalism.
Dr Jarman pointed out that a weakness in terms of specific clarification the post-conflict situation. He added that Human Rights are not a fixed perspective as boundaries are ever changing.
Discussion ensued on how following the conflict there had always been in existence a conflicted relationship between Human Rights and Community Relations in that when one was highlighted it would be to the detriment to the other. It was identified that there was a need for Good Relations, Equality and Human Rights to work together as opposed to remaining siloed.
The report is to be presented to Council members to sign off pending on the comments made during that meeting. Following this it will be presented to the Human Rights Commissioners within the NIHRC as a basis of informing their future workload.
Action Point: CRC to arrange to meet with NIHRC to work on a further joint response to CSI
Action Point: Committee to recommend report to Council and to request recommendations as to moving forward in collaborative work between Human Rights and Good Relations.
4 Chair’s Business
I. The Chair recapped on the three Summer Intervention meetings that had been held between April and August. He informed members that there had been a high level of dissatisfaction voiced by those who had attended, in regards being asked the same questions at each of the meetings. This issue is to be placed on the agenda of the next meeting of the IWG.
It was also stated that Belfast City Council have been working on actions. It had been decided at the ICP meeting that a list be compiled of all the projects related to interfaces.
II. The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) have contacted CRC in regards to participating in discussions on shared housing and bringing forward the outcomes from the seminar held in March 2011.
Ray Mullan, Director of Communications, reported that the annual report with the listing of Grant Awards will be published, following presentation of the NI Auditors Report to Council.
During Duncan Morrow’s (CEO) sabbatical he has been reflecting on the achievements of the CRC since 1990. This reflection will form the basis of a text to be published.
Two Shared Space publications are to be published on two different themes. The first will be published in partnership with INCORE and contain a number of articles. The second publication will be comprised of papers drawn from the ‘One City Conference’ held last May. This took the format of an international consortium of countries coming out of conflict and included a number of local and international experiences.
Five publications to be produced by Community Bridges, these include; Approaches to Recommendations of IFI, Approaches to Education; Conflict Transformation. These are to be launched together. Currently two have been completed.
A report is to be published based on the “Remembering the Past” Conference which has been compiled by Deirdre MacBride.
Action Point: The Chair recommended a schedule of publications and their estimated launch dates be produced into a document so that the timing of publications can be timed to maximise publicity.
6 CSI Update
In regards to CSI, this has been referred to a five party working group, as yet this committee are awaiting confirmation of a date for their first meeting and related papers.
Jacqueline Irwin advised that the OFMdFM confirmed that an untitled draft has been produced but is yet to be passed by the Executive. Confusion was voiced that there is an existence of a draft paper without the meeting of the working group being convened.
Members were informed that the CRC have held a number of meetings with MLAs representing the five main political parties, regarding CSI alongside other issues.
A Freedom of Information request has been submitted to the Executive by the Alliance Party requesting publications of the consultation responses to CSI.
7 Internal Communication
Mr Mullan advised that the Communications Team are presently working on a review of their work. The Advocacy Strategy drawn up by the Policy team is being used as a template to highlight the areas of work to be addressed. Recommendations that have arisen from this include the issuing of press releases to coincide with meetings with Ministers and Committees in Assembly.
It was further stated that meetings between staff members of the Policy Team and the Communications Team would commence on a fortnightly basis. The first meeting is to be held following the current meeting.
In regards to CRC’s online presence, Mr Mullan reminded members that CRC commenced using Facebook as a social media tool last September. In addition to this there is currently a review being undertaken of the CRC website. As there is the possibility for a number of developments, Mr Mullan suggested that under the new Policy and Communications Committee a sub-group should be established to deal with communication matters.
Action Point: A Sub-Group to be established under the current Policy and Communications Committee, in order to deal with communication matters.
8 Advocacy Paper
Bebhinn McKinley, Policy Officer, informed the meeting that over the summer months a number of meetings had been held between CRC and a number of political representatives including Robin Newton (DUP), Chris Lyttle (Alliance) and John McAllister (UUP). The aforementioned, it is thought, will be sitting on the CSI Working Group within the Assembly. Through these meetings there is the belief that the Policy Committee can then feed into these meetings.
These political meetings also concentrated on a number of issues beyond CSI, including children and young people, the disturbances at the beginning of the summer in East Belfast and the flags protocol. CRC have offered to provide further information as requested by these political representatives which meetings have been held with, in order to establish and sustain relationships.
Meetings have been arranged also with the SDLP and Sinn Fein and are due to take place in the coming week. Additionally a number of meetings have been set up with Minsters. A meeting with DOE Minister Alex Attwood is to be held on 3rd October and on 6th October 2011 CRC are meeting with Justice Minister, David Ford.
A meeting has been arranged for the 27th October 2011 between the CRC and DRD Minister, Danny Kennedy. This meeting is to deal specifically with the issue of interfaces and will incorporate a tour of the three pilot schemes the Barrier Removal Sub-Group are currently working on. The aim of this meeting is to clarify to Mr Kennedy the role the Roads Service can take in areas where barriers are ready to be removed but are unable to be removed due to traffic calming issues and other red tape concerns.
Furthermore, there is the possibility of a meeting with DSD Minister, Nelson McCausland in mid-October. This comes on the back of the Shared Housing Seminar held in March 2011 and will involve meeting with stakeholders prior to the meeting Minister McCausland.
In addition to these meetings, it was reported that Jacqueline Irwin and Tony McCusker met with the Secretary of State, Owen Patterson and in a separate meeting met with Dominic Hannigan TD who Chairs the Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee in the Republic of Ireland.
An outreach event between the OFMdFM Committee and Stakeholders will take place on Wednesday 28th September at St Columb’s Park House, Derry. Notifications have been sent to all CRC funded groups in relation to this event, inviting them to attend.
Bebhinn McKinley, Kelan McClelland and Ray Mullan attended the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis over the 9th and 10th September in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast. The original objective under the Advocacy Paper was to place a CRC stall at each of the Political Party conferences, however this is deemed to constitute political funding under the Letter of Offer to CRC from OFMdFM. This also applies to attending as a delegate if there is a delegate fee. In terms of the Ard Fheis, free passes had been provided thus enabling CRC’s attendance.
A more positive tone was detected at the Ard Fheis, in particular through David Latimer’s speech and the shift of language towards Good Relations and the need to address sectarianism. One of the motions forwarded (motion 171) specifically referred to dealing with the tension at interface areas and need to leverage discussion with other political parties in regards to this.
The CRC Conference video is now available in full on Youtube and a link on the CRC website.
Deirdre MacBride informed members that she is to meet with DCAL and the Deputy First Minister in relation to commemorations. She advised that guidance from the Committee would be welcomed, particularly as January 2012 commences the Covenant which tends to set how commemorations will be conducted over the next ten years.
Jacqueline Irwin referred to the issue of summer intervention and explained that there has been confusion expressed over which agency or department responsibility had for certain issues. Ms Irwin made the observation that the DOJ have been increasingly supportive in their role. In addition to this there is a collaborative review underway by the BCC, DOJ, OFMdFM and CRC. A summer engagement document is to be produced as well as a report by Tim Losty of OFMDFM, and these will inform progress in this area.
Dympna McGlade, Policy Director, welcomed sight of the Community Engagement Paper and observed that within the meetings there had been friction between the PSNI and PUL community. However in the paper there is the expressed desire to address this friction which will involve putting a strategy in place.
Severe concern has been expressed from a number of sources in regards to paramilitaries, particularly in East Belfast.
Jacqueline reported that both Tony McCusker and she had attended a conference hosted by the Secretary of State on Monday last followed by a meeting with the Secretary of State. The general message was that there is a need for issues around CSI and Good Relations to be dealt with at local level. However the issue was raised by Dr David Russell that whilst it is claimed that this is the case issues such as Human Rights, as stated in Dr Jarman’s earlier presentation, were something that the NIO had responsibility for and a need for future engagement with the Secretary of State.
9 Consultations and NI Assembly Update
Kelan McClelland, Policy Development Officer, circulated summaries of the draft policy responses he has made to recent consultations received by CRC.
Action Point: Kelan is to circulate electronically consultation responses and members are to respond by Friday of this week with any comments they wish to make.
Ms McGlade raised the point that there are a large number of consultations received by CRC which are inapplicable to the work of the organisation, for instance the docking of dog tails. She requested from the Committee a decision as to whether they would be confident that the Policy Team could use their discretion to omit such consultations from the traffic light tracking system. Due to recommendations made during a previous audit, inapplicable consultations are still to be incorporated into the traffic light tracking system.
Action point: Grace is to circulate updated traffic light system of consultation tracking to all members.
10 Common Landlord
Deirdre MacBride presented a paper entitled “Common Landlord Areas (CLAs) and the promotion of Cohesive Communties.”
Ms MacBride pointed out that there were sensitive details contained within the paper and it dealt broadly with two main issues:
1. The potential of amalgamation of two common letting areas, namely that of Ormeau Road and Annadale
2. The development of choice based on letting schemes beyond the Pilot that has been developed by the Executive
Members were informed that presently there are eight common letting areas within the Belfast City Centre area, incorporating single identity housing estates. She added that this was a deterrent to mixed applications and affected applications of those from an ethnic minority background.
On the back of this paper there have been three recommendations made:
1. To leave as is
2. To create one large letting area that incorporates the eight letting areas;
3. To create a letting area comprising of a small area of each of the eight letting areas, termed ‘City Centred’.
Concern was raised at a number of the details within the paper that detailed racial discrimination and it was requested that this issue be immediately brought to the attention of the Equality Commission.
Action Point: Deirdre MacBride is to raise the issues referred to above with the Equality Commission.
Ms MacBride is to draft a report for consideration by the Equality Commission, on the discussed paper which incorporates the three aforementioned recommendations.
Tony Kennedy advised members that this was his last meeting in the role of Chair of the group. He conveyed his best wishes to his successor and expressed his gratitude to members for their attendance at the meetings and hard work.
Ms McGlade voiced thanks to Tony Kennedy, on behalf of CRC staff, for the work he has carried out within his role as Chair of the group.
Hassan Mansour, Council Member, advised members that he is to speak at a event hosted by the Habits of Solidarity Network, on how the Muslim community in Northern Ireland deals with segregation. The Habits of Solidarity Network is an umbrella organisation based in the UK and receives independent charitable funding. The talk will take place on 26th September 2011 at CAJ offices.
12 Date of Next Meeting
Wednesday 16 November 2011 at 10am in the Board Room of CRC Offices.
The meeting ended at 12 noon.
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