A youth activist who was centrally involved in managing community tensions on the interfaces of East Belfast just a week after donating a kidney to his ill son has been presented with a major award by the Community Relations Council (CRC).
Paul McCrory, a founder member of Short Strand Community Forum, was today (Monday May 14, 2012) presented with the Community Relations Award for Exceptional Achievement at the flagship event of Community Relations Week in Titanic Belfast.
Paul received the award for his outstanding, sustained and long-term commitment to community relations work over more than two decades. He has primarily been involved in working with young people in the Short Strand area to build relationships across the interfaces, and is also manager of The Doyle Youth Club in the area.
Damien Brennan, another community worker in the Short Strand area who nominated Paul for the award, said that last year Paul donated a kidney to his young son, who was ill, and continued to work diligently to help improve community relations during his recuperation, including being back on the interfaces within a week to help keep young people away from trouble.
Paul is recognised as having played a central role in helping mediate during sectarian violence at the Short Strand and Inner East Belfast interface, making significant personal and family sacrifices to help build better community relations.
The Community Relations Award for Exceptional Achievement was presented during CRC’s policy conference, entitled No More Them and Us?: the challenges and opportunities for creating a shared society.
Tony McCusker, Chairman of the Community Relations Council says that much of the good work that has been done in East Belfast to build better relations has had Paul at its core.
“We are very pleased to present this annual award to Paul McCrory, whose work is clearly exceptional, and widely recognised as such. Paul joins a long line of outstanding community relations practitioners to receive the award, whose work makes such a positive and important contribution to creating a better, more shared society,” he adds.
Sammy Douglas, a DUP MLA for East Belfast, added his support to Paul’s nomination for the award: “I have known Paul McCrory since my capacity as chair of East Belfast Partnership in 1996. I have always found Paul to be 100% committed to not only the welfare of young people in Short Strand but also the wider East Belfast area. He has taken personal risks during times of unrest to ensure the smooth running of innovative cross-community youth projects from Wider Horizons to interface management. I think Paul is an excellent candidate and well deserving as he is a committed and highly respected youth and community worker who has worked tirelessly to build relationships in East Belfast.”
The Community Relations Award for Exceptional Achievement has been presented annually since 2006 by the Community Relations Council as a mark of recognition. It consists of a trophy created from bronze and granite by the artist Kate Oram.
The award was presented as part of Community Relations Week, which features over 150 events this week under the theme ‘No More Them and Us?’.