‘Are We Fit for the Future?’. This is the title of a major conference organised by the Community Relations Council for over 180 community and voluntary activists whose business is the building of peace in Northern Ireland.
Government's Shared Future Policy – Community Relations groups get itoff the page and into action
'Are We Fit for the Future?'. This is the title of a major conference organised by the Community Relations Council for over 180 community and voluntary activists whose business is the building of peace in Northern Ireland.
The Live Issues Conference (23 November 2006), held at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast, aims to facilitate active discussion and debate on the important issues which affect community life in Northern Ireland. While local political parties wrestle with the looming deadline of 24 November, community relations activists will be addressing real and current issues, such as Flags & Emblems and Sharing Space, youth crime and anti-social behaviour, the use of sport in community relations, and the impact on community planning of the RPA.
A former Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council,
Professor Mari Fitzduff, an internationally renowned expert on inter-communal conflict and peace processes, now based in Boston, will be delivering a key note address to delegates on an important and fundamental issue for Northern Ireland - What can we learn from other countries about peacebuilding?
Duncan Morrow, CRC's Chief Executive, said
"In light of the government's Shared Future policy the debate among delegates today will focus on the differing perspectives of what the future will and should look like in terms of governmental and community structures and what needs to be happening now in order for these to become a reality”.
“Having sufficient resources is vital to put the wheels on the Shared Future policy. If Government is serious about this policy it needs to more effectively target and provide proper funding resources for community relations work. The Community Relations Council receives year on year hundreds of applications which are dealing with ongoing conflict issues within our divided society. We are oversubscribed at every level – this is a serious concern for the Council, for our groups and for society at large, if we are to move towards A Shared Future.”
Francis Higgins, director of TIMEWARP a cross-community initiative involving young people from interface areas, and an applicant for CRC funding, has experienced the consequences of this.
He said: “We have signed up eight youth groups from interface areas for our project and applied for £10,000 in match funding from CRC. Our major funders refused to commence the project until all the funds were secured. Surely groups agreeing to work through the difficult issues of conflict are worth a measly £10,000 which is the amount we requested from CRC but they were unable to deliver through the lack of Government funding. The war was potentially lost for the want of a nail.”
For further information contact
Ray Mullan, Community Relations Council tel. 90-227500.
Note for Editors:
The Conference begins at 9.45 am at the Ramada Hotel at Shaw's Road.