Name: Derek Moore.
Occupation: Regional Coordinator of the Londonderry Bands Forum (LBF). Derek also oversees the local outreach and educational work of the LBF in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. LBF is currently core-funded by the Community Relations Council.
The LBF was established in 2010 as an alternative leadership delivery alliance to “challenge preconceptions and misconceptions (of the bands community) through education and dialogue.” In the convening years they have played a key strategic and local peace-building role, providing a unique form of positive mentorship to all bands in the North-West and also a range of ground-breaking grassroots programmes.
Derek, how did you get into peacebuilding and community relations?
In 2013 the LBF and St Columbs Park House Reconciliation Trust approached the International Fund for Ireland’s Peace Impact Programme with the idea to create a unique funded position to look into an alternative leadership approach using the vast numbers of marching bands members.
Initially, I thought that an approach like this maybe wasn’t practical, given the bad press that the movement had attracted until that time.
I was convinced that the main problem with the marching band genre was the fact that there was no coordinated approach in the movement. However, with my positive experience having been a band member for 45 years, I thought I could change this. So, I applied for the position and was successful."
Tell me a little bit more about your background and initial work with LBF?
I was running a successful building business at this time, but I decided to give the process two years and see where we could go.
Early on, it became clear that my background and “building site” approach to working was quite different from others within the sector.
But I wanted to actively push for change to the status quo.
One of the reasons I had been reluctant to take the job in the first place was the simple rationale that if you do a good job then you don’t have any job to do.
During the UK City of Culture Year, important relationships were built with PUL (Protestant Loyalist Unionist) groups. We also built a relationship with An Cultúrlann about marching bands’ participation in the All-Ireland Fleadh. This proved to be critical to my efforts to deliver the alternative leadership model envisaged by LDF and St Columb’s Park House.
Given the make-up of that organisation and the openness of their management, I learned a lot. This was my first real experience of cross-community engagement in the community sector.
What does your job involve?
Initially my job was to look at the internal workings and structures in the bands sector.
My role is focused on delivering our mission statement: “Challenging preconceptions and misconceptions through education and dialogue.”
Rightly, this is the focus of everything we do. We had forthright opinions that needed to be communicated with respect.
This was a learning journey for sure.
When actions sometimes didn’t go as planned, we accepted blame, but we also celebrated our successes and welcomed credit for our endeavours.
Since 2013, I have tried to be honest in my views – this approach created more successes that failures.
Communication and honesty of opinion is the key to consistent progress in community development. It is also fortunate that in Derry we do communicate when issues arise that can cause major problems, and early work in the 1990s by the Apprentice Boys and others justified our approach in a sometimes-critical environment."
Tell me about one of your best experiences.
For me it the best experience has been the ongoing peacefulness of Cultural Expression through parading.
A lot of this is down to the Maiden City Accord, a five-month process chaired by myself, with the Loyal Orders, Bands and Marshals. Continual communication with city centre managers, PSNI and residents is essential to maintain success, and we are instrumental in this continuing."
How did the Maiden City Accord come about?
The creation of the Maiden City Accord has been one of the greatest achievements I have been involved in.
Early on, event organisers came up with the idea that they could create a protocol that they could develop with participant groups. Negotiations soon proved that everyone had areas of responsibility that were integral to well managed events.
The result was the Maiden City Accord, which is like an event plan that incorporates individual and organisational responsibilities. It is clear and concise in the roles and responsibilities for everyone – public, participants and statutory agencies.
There have also been attempts to use it for other areas and it’s my hope that, as the Peace Process continues, the Maiden City Accord will provide a starting point for positive discussions throughout the Province and beyond."
If you had a magic wand and could make any change – what would it be?
I would rewrite the Belfast Agreement into a clearer document with credible timelines and accountable outcomes."
What advice would you give to others?
One size doesn’t fit all. I think if we are to progress, we have to ask each other the difficult questions. I was a child and adult of the Troubles, and the responsibility to contain and sort out the problems associated with the violence of my lifetime is a huge responsibility for my generation."
How has the Community Relations Council (CRC) helped with what you’ve achieved?
Our work has always been of interest to the CRC and through the years I have received advice and support particularly on topics that were initially beyond my limited experience. This led to the opportunity to apply for initial funding from CRC in 2018.
Continued support from CRC is essential for forward thinking groups. Their support has helped test the new leadership model as envisaged by LBF and St Columb’s Park House at the outset. Funding was delivered as part of a clear plan with achievable outcomes. This approach has helped us create robust work projects and activities to build good relations and create more united communities.
In particular, I’ve been better connected with the people working at grassroots level, which is a constant encouragement."
The Londonderry Bands Forum is a core funded group of the Community Relations Council. Learn more about our Core Funding Scheme.