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Minister for Foreign Affairs announces funding for cross-community and cross-border outreach groups

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D., today announced that 37 groups would receive €456,500 in funding to underpin reconciliation initiatives under the Department of Foreign Affairs' Reconciliation and Anti-Sectarianism Funds.

Speaking at the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Fifth Reconciliation Networking Forum at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Minister Martin said:

“My Department’s Reconciliation and Anti Sectarianism Funds have developed a strong focus both on youth outreach and on community empowerment and regeneration, reflecting many of the challenges faced in our society today.

Among many of the groups receiving an Award today is Achieve Enterprises, an innovative new project which will look at young people’s rights and responsibilities around stop and search powers, designed to improve young people’s relationships with authority and with the police.”

Speaking of the importance of such work, the Minister said: “We have an obligation to them to provide opportunities, to help them find their voice, and ensure that they do not fall into the hands of criminals, intent on destroying the hard won peace.

There can be no substitution or dilution of the role of policing in society. Great progress has been made in making the PSNI more representative of the whole community, as provided for in the Patten Report and we must continue to build on this.”

Minister Martin described the removal of guns as “an opportunity to reinvigorate our work in these communities and look at new forms of cooperation and collaboration to ensure that there is a peace dividend for all”. The Minister recalled that “the people of Ireland, North and South, have said clearly that the only viable road to unity on this island lies through peace, tolerance, persuasion and agreement”.

Minister Martin said that “those who reject these principles perpetuate the divisions on the island” and he emphasised his own views of such activity - “as a democrat, as an elected representative of a political party proud of and committed to its republican tradition, I deplore their actions and call on them to stop.”

The Minister commended all the groups receiving funding and thanked them “for their sustained commitment to protecting our hard won peace and building a prosperous future”.

Some of the projects approved for funding by the Minister include:

  • Youth Work Ireland Monaghan, to support the partnership between young people from communities in Fermanagh, Monaghan and Belfast which encourages young people to recognise the similarities between them, to accept the differences and to challenge the barriers to peace and reconciliation;
  • Newbuildings Community Association, to contribute to a cultural diversity programme which encourages young people to become involved in youth club activities, to build links with similar communities and thereby encourage cross-community contact and inter-action;
  • New Lodge Arts, towards their cross community youth arts festival “Celebrate North Belfast” will take place at the end of July;
  • Saint Youth Centre in the Twinbrook/Poleglass area of West Belfast to support their cross community work in East Belfast and North Down;
  • Forge Family Resource Centre, to develop a cross-border, cross-community project in Pettigo and Tullyhommon;
  • Forthspring Intercommunity Group which is helping build local capacity and relationships across a difficult interface. This project is a community driven initiative to improve relations and to regenerate a deprived area;
  • Community Relations in Schools who have developed a sustainable model for building collaborative relationships between parent groups at nursery school level.

Note for Editors:

As part of the Good Friday Agreement, participants undertook to “positively examine the case for enhanced financial assistance for the work of reconciliation.” On that basis, a Government Decision in April 1999 increased funding eightfold to £2 million. The budget for this year is €3 million - this covers both the Reconciliation Fund and the Anti-Sectarianism Fund. Since 1999, the two Funds have between them disbursed some €23 million to over 800 projects.

The Reconciliation Networking Forum is a two-day event attended by some 200 individuals representing community groups engaged in reconciliation activities and anti sectarianism projects on both sides of the border. The Forum gives participants the opportunity to meet with other organisations active in the reconciliation sector for the discussion of best practice and future challenges in community relations.

Projects approved for funding by the Minister under the Reconciliation Fund are set out below:

Organisation Delivery / Region  Amount Awarded 
 Achieve Enterprises  NI Wide  €42,500
 All Ireland Schools Choir
(RTE / Cooperation Ireland)
 North-South  €45,000
 Axis Arts Centre Ballymun  North-South  €15,000
 Ballykeel 2 Residents Association  Co. Antrim  €4,500
 Ballymac Friendship Trust  Belfast East  €3,500
 Belturbet Row Boat Club  North-South  €2,500
 Brookeborough LOL / Riverstown  North-South  €2,500
 Community Relations in Schools  Belfast wide  €12,500
 Cumann Cultúrtha Mhic Reachtain  Belfast North  €3,500
 Forge Family Resource Centre  North-South  €12,500
 Fountain Cultural Society (Cresco)  Derry City  €8,000
 Friends Forever  Co. Antrim  €17,500
 Handful Productions  Derry City  €5,000
 Hazel Wand Theatre School  Co. Tyrone  €6,000
 Hillsborough Working Together  Co. Down  €5,000
 New Lodge Arts  Belfast North  €7,500
 Newbuildings Community Association  Co. Derry  €7,500
 Peninsula Healthy Living Partnership (O4O)  Co. Down  €9,500
 Saints Youth Centre  Belfast West  €5,000
 Short Strand Community Forum  Belfast East  €7,500
 Strule Dolphins Swimming Club  Co. Tyrone  €4,000
 Summer Madness  Belfast wide  €5,000
 Woodvale Community Youth Group  Belfast North  €9,500
Youth Work Ireland-Monaghan  North-South  €10,000
 Youthworks C.I.C.  Belfast wide  €15,000

Projects approved for funding by the Minister under the Anti-Sectarianism Fund are set out below:

Organisation Delivery / Region  Amount Awarded
 Cairn Lodge Amateur Boxing Club  Belfast West  €3,500
 Cityside Amateur Boxing Club  Derry City  €3,500
 Clooney Estate Residents Association  Derry City  €4,000
 Creggan Enterprises  Derry City  €10,000 
 ECF Links  Armagh  €20,000
 Forthspring Inter Community Group  Belfast West  €15,000
 ICTU  NI Wide  €90,000
 Mission Hall Quilts Ltd (Cresco)  Derry City  €7,500
 Peace & Reconciliation Group  Derry City  €5,000
 Sally Gardens Community Centre  Antrim  €5,000
 Show Racism the Red Card  North-South  €9,000
 South Lough Neagh Regeneration Assoc.  Tyrone  €18,000