International peace forum descends on Belfast (International Fund for Ireland)

FCT Belfast Chair, Councillor Tim Attwood, addresses members
FCT Belfast Chair, Councillor Tim Attwood, addresses members

International peace forum descends on Belfast
Fund Focus, newsletter for the International Fund for Ireland
1 June 2015

Late last year, the International Fund for Ireland welcomed the fifth annual Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT) to Belfast for a series of discussion on the theme of “promoting reconciliation through resilience”. The Chair of FCT Belfast, Councillor Tim Attwood, shares his experiences from the event. Read more

Small but significant steps in overcoming old hatreds

holland-jennySmall but significant steps in overcoming old hatreds
Forum for Cities in Transition 5th annual gathering
by Jenny HOLLAND for Forum for Cities in Transition
30 October 2014

Progressive Unionist Party city counsellor John Kyle was at an event Monday night to welcome a delegation of visitors from cities living through or coming out of violence and conflict. Read more

Villiers should stand up for NI, as she has done for her own constituency (News Letter)

Villiers should stand up for NI, as she has done for her own constituency
OPINION: Nick GARBUTT (News Letter)
30 October 2014

Delegates from cities all around the world that are either emerging from, or still engulfed in conflict were in Belfast this week for a conference entitled “Promoting reconciliation through resilience”. Read more

Irish peace process a beacon of hope: McGuinness

Irish peace process a beacon of hope: McGuinness
Sinn Féin, Belfast
30 October 2014

The Irish peace process is a beacon of hope internationally but ongoing political effort is required if current negotiations are to succeed, Deputy Minister Martin McGuinness has told the Forum for Cities in Transition International conference in Belfast City Hall today. Read more

Communities share Peace Walls Programme lessons with international audience (International Fund for Ireland)

20151029 IFI

Communities share Peace Walls Programme lessons with international audience
International Fund for Ireland
29 October 2014

An international forum today (Wednesday 29th October) heard that interface communities are taking brave steps to address peace walls, but the resources available to support progress are not enough to meet the appetite for change.

As part of the Forum for Cities in Transition, more than 80 people from 15 divided cities across the Middle East, Africa and Europe visited local groups involved in the International Fund for Ireland¹s Peace Walls Programme (PWP).

Launched in 2012, the PWP seeks to create the conditions needed to begin the removal of the interface barriers and has provided a range of confidence and relationship building initiatives to assist residents to arrive at a position where they feel it is safe and appropriate to consider the removal of Peace Walls in their area.

The PWP delivery model has generated considerable momentum for positive physical transformation and received widespread acclaim from community groups, government departments and statutory agencies.

Speaking at the Forum, Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), said:

“Supporting interface communities to deliver meaningful and sustainable change, both physical and attitudinal, is a key part of our work. We are always keen to promote and share our work with other parts of the world emerging from conflict. Peace walls are among the most visible remaining symbols of community division in Northern Ireland, but there are real concerns that early removal could negatively impact on the safety of residents and potentially de-stabilise the Peace Process.

“The IFI has invested nearly £3 million in two years to help residents at interface areas get to a point where they feel it is safe and appropriate for barrier removal to happen. The Programme has delivered significant progress and has begun a schedule of works to transform interface areas in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.”

He added, “Interface communities that have engaged with the IFI have demonstrated courage to re-imagine their communities. While there is an opportunity to make serious progress, there is also a real risk that the momentum could be lost if the NI Executive does not back that courage with financial support and resources to match the ambition of the communities.”

There are approximately 100 Peace Walls in Belfast with a smaller number in Derry/Londonderry and Portadown. Approximately 30 Peace Walls have been erected since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The Forum for Cities in Transition is a four-day gathering aimed at debating and learning from challenges and successes of peacebuilding.

Forum for Cities in Transition Director, Professor Padraig O’Malley, said:

“At a time of great division in the world, it is crucial that we focus on what we can do on a practical level, to bring together opposing sections of society.  It is imperative that we hear the voices not just of those at the extremes of conflict, but also those who work every day to bring about resolution and cooperation, often under terribly difficult circumstances.”

Forums for Cities in Transition is funded by the International Fund for Ireland, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Irish Aid and the Reconciliation Fund), Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Ireland Funds and the Community Relations Council.

Article originally published: http://www.internationalfundforireland.com/media-centre/101-press-releases-2013/674-communities-share-peace-walls-programme-lessons-with-international-audience

Progress on interfaces crucial part of lasting peace jigsaw: Ford

Progress on interfaces crucial part of lasting peace jigsaw: Ford
Department of Justice
29 October 2014

Justice Minister David Ford has addressed delegates at the Forum for Cities in Transition international conference in Belfast.

The fifth annual Forum for Cities in Transition conference is being held in Belfast for the first time and this year’s theme is ‘promoting reconciliation through resilience’ brings together delegates from 15 cities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa over the course of this week to learn, explore and share their challenges and successes.

Addressing delegates on the third day of the conference, David Ford said: “We continue to make positive strides in our efforts to tackle community tension at interfaces and move towards the creation of a safe, secure and shared future by addressing the issues of prejudice and division.

“Regrettably the recent trouble at the interface in East Belfast highlights the importance of dealing with the underlying problems in interface communities if continued progress is to be made in the removal of interface barriers.

“I utterly condemn the recent violence, which highlights the need for not only community leadership but consistent and sustained political leadership if we are to deliver economic, social, community and physical renewal within interface areas.”

The Minister continued: “Progress within interface communities is a crucial part of the peace jigsaw in Northern Ireland and as you will have seen from your visits in north and west of Belfast this week a lot of positive work is underway on the ground.

“However whilst we have made small steps forward on this issue, there is still a large body of work to do to keep it moving in the right direction. My officials are working closely with other Executive departments, statutory authorities and local community groups to give this process momentum. In particular I want to praise the work of the International Fund for Ireland funded Peace Wall Programme.

“The work undertaken by community groups under this programme, such as Duncairn Community Partnership, is valued and essential, transforming local areas that have witnessed significant cross community strife in the recent past to ones which are capable of embracing a shared, rather than divided society.”

The Minister was a key speaker at the plenary workshop on ‘Strategic focus on community work at interfaces’ at Farset International Hotel Belfast, he shared a panel with Adrian Johnston – Chair of International Fund of Ireland and Peter Osborne – Chair Community Relations Council NI.

NOTES:

  1. More information on the Forum for Cities in transition project is available online at https://citiesintransition.net/
  2. For media queries on the Justice Minister’s attendance at the event contact DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6139.

[Statement originally appeared: http://www.dojni.gov.uk/index/media-centre/progress-on-interfaces-crucial-part-of-lasting-peace-jigsaw-ford.htm ]