Equity Diversity Interdependence
Promoting a Peaceful and Fair
Society based on Reconciliation
and Mutual Trust.
24th February 2011
Those involved in Theme 1.1 of the EU Peace III Programme, held a special ‘Speak Your Peace’ conference in Armagh on the 24th February 2011 on the work of the Peace III Partnerships. Hosted by Pobal and the Community Relations Council. The conference was an opportunity to reflect on the work of Phase I of the programme, ‘Building Positive Relationships at local level’, as it prepares to move forward to Phase 2. Those attending were those taking part in the various Partnership projects.
Denis Leamy, Chief Executive of POBAL, said,
‘Each Partnership area is engaged in significant and important work to address sectarianism and racism. So often, this work goes unnoticed, unrecognised, hidden and not acknowledged. Yet it is the cornerstone and life blood of the peace process, building positive relations at the local level.
‘The Peace III programme is a cross border programme and the efforts by Partnerships to build cross-border relationships is a testimony to the commitment by all stakeholders to continue to focus on building positive relationships and breaking down any barriers that exist, perceived or real.’
Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council said,
‘There has been a lot of learning from the first phase of the Peace III Programme, and as we move forward to phase two, Partnerships will be encouraged to think and act more strategically. The EU Peace Programme has invested much over many years in the peace process in Northern Ireland and the border counties. Its success will be to have helped establish a firm foundation for building a Shared Society that both respects difference and acknowledges our interdependence.’
The conference held three discussion sessions.
The first explored the current context and policy in both north and south to promote and support peace building initiatives. The second heard feedback from evaluations and measurement of the work of the Peace Partnerships so far. The third highlighted two examples of Peace III Partnerships making a practical difference on sectarianism, racism and cross border work (Donegal Partnership and the North East Partnership).
Participants at the conference also had an opportunity to visit two local projects- PLACE in Portadown and County Monaghan Community Network’s ‘Communities Sharing Project’ in Monaghan.
The Consortium hosted a conference in December 2009 in Belfast on the theme of 'Learning the Lessons, Planning for the Challenges Ahead'. This was attended by the 14 Local Authority led Peace and Reconciliation Partnerships in Northern Ireland and the six southern border counties.
Set in the distinguished Spires Mall Conference Hall in Belfast, the conference attracted guests from the partnerships, including electoral representatives, staff from the councils and partner organisations. The conference was opened by Cllr Naomi Long, Lord Mayor of Belfast, who welcomed the examination of issues such as peace and reconciliation - pointing out that these are core values of her term in office, "My theme of 'Belfast without barriers' is a great example of how we can all work to address sectarianism and racism. It is vital that the good work already being carried out and the positive relationships being built continue to help create a society where everyone feels included," she said.