‘The opportunity of our time is for ‘real action for a new normal’ not ‘back to normal’’ says Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council, in the Council’s Annual Review which is published today (Monday 14 December).
The Review acknowledges the good work that has been done. The Council itself, with the support of OFMdFM, distributed £5.9 million in grants to projects for community relations (£2.1m) and victim support (£3.8m) work. It has also worked with other groups and organisations in addressing good relations issues involving interfaces, murals, parades, policing, flags, bonfires, cultural celebration, shared neighbourhoods, young people, local initiatives, dealing with ‘hotspots’, victims and survivors and dealing with the past.
But, as the CRC Chair, Tony McCusker, comments in the Review,
‘while we have seen real progress towards a new normality of relationship and peaceful conflict resolution, we cannot ignore some of the ongoing challenges. The Council remains concerned that we have not yet been able to tackle the issue of separated living symbolised in interface barriers.’
Tony McCusker continues,
‘There is a need to turn the fine words of peace building into concrete actions. The Council remains frustrated that there has been no progress on the long-promised (government) strategy on Cohesion, Sharing and Integration. The failure (of the Executive) to replace or renew ‘A Shared Future’ leaves the Executive open to the accusation that it has no vision of a future for all and no common sense of the contribution of various public bodies and government.’
Duncan Morrow adds,
‘The promise of devolution and of the peace process is of progress towards a shared, equal and better future….The opportunity of change remains, but there is a risk that it will be squandered if we do not find ways of acting decisively- now.’
Copies of CRC’s Annual Review can be downloaded here or printed copies free on request from CRC, tel 90-227500.