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

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.


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

[Statement originally appeared: ]

Peace has transformed Belfast: McCann and Bell

Peace has transformed Belfast: McCann and Bell
Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
27 October 2014 

Junior Ministers Jennifer McCann and Jonathan Bell have welcomed an international forum on reconciliation in divided societies to Belfast.

The Forum for Cities in Transition is holding a four-day gathering in the city, bringing together delegates from contested cities from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to debate and learn from challenges and successes under the theme ‘Promoting Reconciliation through Reconciliation’.

Addressing the opening session, Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said: “That this gathering is being held in Belfast is an endorsement of what has already been achieved here in moving away from conflict to a united society. The Executive has prioritised building a strong and shared community in the Programme for Government. The Together: Building a United Community Strategy is driving forward work across departments to deliver progress on the ground in conjunction with individuals and groups at a local level.”

“The journey to peace takes a lot of hard work, dialogue and compromise. Belfast and the North have come a long way in recent years and have been transformed in many respects. There are many signs of progress, such as the level of inward investment and tourism numbers. While every conflict is different, and there is still much to be achieved here, I am sure the delegates will learn much from Belfast over the coming days.”

Welcoming the Forum Junior Minister Jonathan Bell commented: “At one time Northern Ireland was regarded as a place of conflict and division but we have made huge strides over the recent past, creating a place that is great to live, work and invest in.

“The Executive will continue to work hard to build a united and shared community and to create a Northern Ireland where divisions are eradicated. Interventions such as the removal of peace walls, increased shared neighbourhoods, cross community sports activities and the integrated and shared education of our children and young people, are all ways that we can build a united community. I hope that the delegates can learn from our experience to date and from our longer term plans.”

Up to 100 delegates from 14 cities including Baghdad, Haifa, Jerusalem, Mostar, Sarajevo and Tripoli will be taking part in the event. The programme includes visits across the city as well as a mixture of panel sessions and workshops.

Notes to editors:

  1. Media enquires to OFMDFM Press Office, Tel: 028 9037 8283. Out of office hours, contact the Deputy Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440, and your call will be returned.
  1. View photographs from OFMDFM events on our flickr collection at

[Statement originally appeared: ]