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Groups awarded €1.5 million for "tireless" cross-border peace work

The Tánaiste said that Northern Ireland “is still a very divided society” but that the Good Friday Agreement “has opened up new possibilities”.

Stormont
Stormont
Image: Paul Faith/PA Archive/Press Association Images

MORE THAN €1.5 million in funding is to be given to Northern Ireland peace projects.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD, announced the €1,562,500 in grants to support community organisations working on both sides of the border.

A total of 74 reconciliation and anti-sectarianism projects will receive funding following today’s announcement.

The Reconciliation and Anti-Sectarianism Funds – which were expanded to their current size following the Good Friday Agreement – support cross-community outreach in Northern Ireland and the border counties.

The funds also support cross-border co-operation and sensitive commemorative and cultural events.

Good Friday Agreement

The Tánaiste said the Good Friday Agreement “has opened up new possibilities and opportunities for a generation who are growing up in a time of peace”.

Northern Ireland is still a very divided society however, and while North/South cooperation and relations have improved very significantly, the legacy of the past continues to affect communities, businesses and infrastructure on both sides of the border.

Amongst the groups receiving an award under the funds is Co-operation Ireland, which receives the largest award for its work with at-risk young people and in marginalised communities.

Peter Sheridan of Co-operation Ireland told TheJournal.ie that such funding is “essential” as they have a number of projects going. These include entwined history projects, which focus on dealing “with a decade of anniversaries in way that doesn’t create further division across the island”.

“We wouldn’t be able to do that work without the support of the fund,” said Sheridan. “What is important is getting us to that shared future where people on this whole island see this place as home whatever their tradition or religion”.

He said that “there are hundreds of people alive today and hundreds of people who are uninjured because of the Good Friday Agreement, and sometimes we forget that”. But after the agreement, the question is “how do we normalise the relationship between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Ireland and the UK and between communities in Northern Ireland”, said Sheridan, saying that events such as the Queen’s visit to Dublin is part of the process.

He said he “absolutely” sees progress but that “we have some way to go”.

Peace isn’t about an absence of violence. [It is about ] how we learn to live together as citizens and not enemies.

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Sheridan also said that Ireland plays a central role in helping in people in other conflict zones because of the experiences here.

Commended

Support is also being provided to Mediation NI for training to enable community leaders in Ballymena, Limavady and Omagh to deal with contentious issues in their communities, and to Greenore Greencastle Community Association for its development of cross-border links between Counties Louth and Down.

The Tánaiste commended all the groups receiving funding for their contribution to reconciliation, and the promotion of improved relations on the island of Ireland:

The tireless work being carried out by these groups is helping to build sustainable community relations based on mutual respect and tolerance. The challenge of sustaining and embedding peace is one which much be taken forward at the political level but also very much at the community level.

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