The Community Relations Council (CRC) is launching its new Strategic Plan for 2001-2004 this evening (20th September) at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.
The Council, which has been named as an intermediary funding body for the second round of European Peace Programme funding due later this year, will also be using this occasion to launch a 48-page magazine, Building Good Relations, on some of the achievements of projects funded under Peace I.
The mission statement of the Community Relations Council under its new strategic plan is "Enabling Change towards a society free from sectarianism". Will Glendinning, CRC Chief Executive, who will be speaking at the launch, says:
'We launch this plan at a time of uncertainty for the peace process and for the institutions set up under the Belfast Agreement. Indeed there is general global uncertainty following the horrific events last week in New York and Washington. Whatever happens with any of these there will still be a need for work on Community Relations in Northern Ireland.'
'The circumstances may well mean that the Council has to review its strategy and priorities. What is clear, however, is that relationships here are still beset by fear and mistrust and from this comes conflict exhibited through language, segregation, and violence. This impacts on all aspects of this society. Community Relations work is not just the job of those of us directly involved but includes everyone living here. Sectarianism is not confined to those who live on interfaces or some small group of 'bigots'; it exists through out this society. Some of us are just more polite about the way we express it than others. The challenge facing the Council is how to galvanise the desire that we believe does exist for a change to a society free from sectarianism which embraces the three principles of Equity, Respect for Diversity and Interdependence.'
The Council in developing its Strategic Plan has made a number of critical assumptions:
Polarisation between communities will remain in the short term.
There will be a continuation of low level violence.
Government will be committed to a strategy for community relations as part of the Programme for Government.
CRC will operate under the remit of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
The Current level of funding for CRC will continue.
The Strategic Plan also states that the CRC's Vision is
"A pluralist society characterised by equity, respect for diversity, and interdependence" and that the Council's work is founded on the inextricably linked principles of Equity, Diversity and Interdependence.
For further information contact
Ray Mullan, CRC Director of Communications, tel 028 9022 7500.