Community Relations comes under the spotlight today (Friday, 28 May) at a special conference organised by the Community Relations Council. Among the issues being addressed are interface areas, integrated housing, flags and emblems, ethnic minorities, the role of district councils in promoting better relations across the community, and the opportunities for young people in peace building.
The conference, 'Working Towards a Shared Society', is being held in the Belfast Hilton Hotel and is expected to be attended by community activists, policy makers, academics and public officials. It comes against a background of an impending Government decision on the future of the Shared Future consultation paper on improving relations in Northern Ireland which had been delayed from last year. A Government decision is expected next month.
The conference includes six panels of speakers in workshop sessions covering a range of community and race relations issues.
According to CRC Chair, Eamonn McCartan, 'The Community Relations Council wants to ensure that the informed opinion of consultees is clearly reflected in emerging public policy. It is our intention that the conference is used as an opportunity to think creatively about how the challenge of improving community relations might be achieved.'
Duncan Morrow, CRC Chief Executive, added
'At policy level, there is a need for a more coherent approach to promote this work. At government level there is no doubt that this will require real responsibility to be taken by individual departments to look at a huge range of issues from access to non-segregated housing and education for real relationships beyond institutional separation to planning for safe town centres and no-tolerance zones for sectarian graffiti.'
The conference will also address the real and serious concerns of racial and ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland. CRC believes that it is important that both sectarianism and racism are challenged and addressed in a co-ordinated and meaningful way.
Anna Lo, Chief Executive of the Chinese Welfare Association, will be one of the conference's keynote speakers.
For further information contact David Russell, Policy Officer, or Ray Mullan, Press Officer, Community Relations Council, tel 028 90 227500