The Belfast Interface Project, in partnership with the Community Relations Council (CRC), is today (Wednesday) holding a conference ‘Belfast Interface Communities: Building A Shared Future’ at the Spires Conference Centre in Belfast.
8 November 2006
The Belfast Interface Project, in partnership with the Community Relations Council (CRC), is today (Wednesday) holding a conference 'Belfast Interface Communities: Building A Shared Future' at the Spires Conference Centre in Belfast.
The conference aims to help translate the aspirations of the Government's A Shared Future Policy and Strategic Framework, launched last year, into meaningful actions which will be of real benefit to interface communities in Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland.
Speakers will include Nigel Hamilton, Head of the NI Civil Service, Duncan Morrow, CRC Chief Executive, and a series of community workers involved in interface projects across Belfast. The latter include the Short Strand Community Forum, the Highfield Reconciliation Project, the Finaghy Crossroads Group, Local Initiatives for Needy Communities (LINC), the North Belfast Conflict Transformation Forum, the Suffolk Community Forum, the Glandore/ mid-Skegoneill Interface Project and the Crumlin Road Gaol and Girdwood Advisory Panel.
Among the areas for discussion will be how to manage and transform conflict, including creating Shared Spaces and organising youth diversionary work, and how to regenerate interface communities, including physical regeneration and the social economy. The conference will be an opportunity to showcase existing good practice, to network and exchange information, and to influence future government policy.
Chris O'Halloran, Director of the Belfast Interface Project, said:
'Many interface communities continue to experience disadvantage as a consequence of the conflict. This includes inter-community tension, restricted access to facilities and services, high levels of social and economic disadvantage and environmental blight. Interface community groups and community workers have developed a range of positive and effective approaches in addressing these issues. This conference will affirm the value of this work.
Government's Shared Future Policy could better support this important work in future and to be effective it is crucial that it takes into account the realities and the needs of interface communities.'
Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of CRC, said:
'A Shared Future will not be plausible without clear and measurable policy commitments and the resources to back them. This means saying overtly, for example, that the priority in Titanic Quarter or Crumlin Road is a shared and open space. We need to see far greater transparency about how some existing policies directed at one community or another contribute to a shared future. All of this means standing up to vested interests in segregation or antagonism, or finding ways to bring them along.'