The Community Relations Council (CRC) welcomes the publication of the Executive’s consultation on its draft Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) document which was launched today by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.
Tony McCusker, Chair of CRC, said today:
“The Community Relations Council welcomes the publication of this important document. CSI grows out of a recognition that the political landscape in Northern Ireland has changed. Community relations policy, practice and structures cannot remain static in relation to addressing the legacy of the past and building a shared and reconciled society. CRC views this consultation as one of the most important ever in Northern Ireland.
Conflict continues to impact on society in relation to people, communities and the economy particularly in relation to the cost of violent activity and duplication of spending on public services. Every time an image of conflict is beamed around the world there is a negative impact on our hopes for inward investment.
CRC supports this Executive decision to have an open debate about these issues and the commitment to a strategy to tackle them. The Executive must also work collectively alongside leadership at local, political, civic and community level and key experts within the field to achieve sustained, long term progress in peace building."
Dr. Duncan Morrow, CRC Chief Executive added:
“It is imperative that CSI ensures a shared, prosperous and democratic future for all the people of Northern Ireland. In addition to supporting peace building at local and regional level the strategy should also focus on the work of Government Departments and their agencies underpinned by Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 which places a statutory obligation on public bodies to promote equality and good relations.
At this critical point in our history it is crucial that young people, victims and survivors, interface communities, prisoners, ex combatants, women and others have a voice in this consultation process and are fully included in the CSI strategy and its outworking.
The Community Relations Council believes that a shared and reconciled society offers the best way forward for Northern Ireland. Council is fully committed to making this process work. It will be meeting to consider the draft strategy and will issue a more detailed response within the next few weeks.
The Council encourages widespread participation in the CSI consultation process"