The Chair of the Community Relations Council issues a stark warning about budget cuts and appeals to political parties to resolve their differences.
Peter Osborne said:
“The community sector is in crisis. The grass roots organisations that saw Northern Ireland through some of the darkest days may not now be strong enough to do the heavy lifting needed to deepen the peace.
Uncertainties and possible further budget cuts will mean more people than ever before are on the cliff edge of unemployment; but the crisis goes beyond the existing budget uncertainties.
The grass roots work that held a divided society together in darker days is needed just as much now to heal this still segregated society; but it needs more help from government through resourcing and policy shift.
In the last five years the Community Relations Council has endured cuts of over 25%, largely absorbed by the organisation, when we instead need to re-prioritise reconciliation. Reconciliation work cannot be sustained in the long term without resourcing.
I’d encourage political parties to resolve the differences that exist and get local devolution back up and running again, and to recommit to moving this society forward together”