A special conference designed to share innovations and best practice in peace building and reconciliation work took place in Belfast today (22nd November 2010).
Issued on behalf of the International Fund for Ireland
The conference, which was held at Belfast Castle and called: “Sharing Approaches to Peace-building”, was hosted by the International Fund for Ireland through its Community Bridges Programme. It brought together 70 community groups from across the island of Ireland to share experiences and best practice in the field of community relations. A series of workshops and feedback sessions involving all participants formed an integral part of the event.
Dr Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “Much has been achieved through the Community Bridges Programme since its inception in 1996, but the Fund is mindful that much work still needs to be done if we are to help local communities to learn, work and live together as part of a shared and prosperous future.
“While we have made great progress as a society in the last decade, we must deal with the reality of living in a society where for the most part we continue to learn, work and live based on traditional sectarian divisions. This conference brings together groups that work at the forefront of reconciliation to ensure the lessons they have learned and the best practices they have developed are shared more widely with those communities that are still to engage more fully in peace building and reconciliation activities. “
The conference focused on four thematic areas: working with young people, community based mentoring, approaches to conflict transformation, and building relationships by sharing our history.
Dr Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, said: “This is a significant gathering of active peacebuilders from across the island of Ireland. It is a testament to the breadth and scope of their work and the support given by the International Fund for Ireland through the Community Bridges Programme over the last 15 years. The contribution of these local projects, involving ordinary people (sometimes doing extraordinary things), towards a stable and peaceful society cannot be underestimated.”
The Community Bridges Programme was established by the International Fund for Ireland in 1996. Its aim is to build on the community relations, reconciliation, and cross-community and cross-border ethos of the Fund, with an emphasis on helping communities in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties to use innovative community relations projects to address issues of difference and division. The Community Relations Council manages the Community Bridges Programme on behalf of the Fund. Since the Programme was established in 1996 approximately £30m has been committed to a wide variety of projects in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.
About the International Fund for Ireland
The International Fund for Ireland is an independent international organisation established by the Irish and British Governments in 1986. The Fund’s main objectives are to promote economic and social advance and encourage contact, dialogue and reconciliation between unionists and nationalists throughout Ireland.
Contributors to the Fund are the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Since its inception, the Fund has committed more than £648m/€811m to a wide variety of projects in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties. Developing and funding initiatives that tackle segregation and promote integration to build a lasting peace in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties is a key priority for the Fund.
About the Community Relations Council
The Community Relations Council is a registered charity formed in Northern Ireland in 1990. It aims to help organisations and individuals to create a society free from sectarianism and racism. The Council is a development agency for peace in Northern Ireland, based on the principles of equity, respect for diversity and recognition of interdependence.
The Council provides grant aid and advice to voluntary and community groups in support of projects which have a community relations purpose or value.
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