International Fund for Ireland Pledges £4,430,621 towards Peace Building

International Fund for Ireland Pledges £4,430,621 towards Peace Building

The International Fund for Ireland (IFI) has today unveiled £4,430,621 towards peace building.

The IFI was set up by the British and Irish governments as an independent international organisation in 1986. It delivers a range of peace and reconciliation initiatives across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties. It currently supports a total of 40 projects in Northern Ireland and 15 in the southern border counties.

Funding under the IFI’s new ‘Connecting Communities’ strategy will roll out core programmes that create meaningful collaboration and sustainable peace across the island of Ireland. The funding package announced today will benefit 29 community projects across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties. Three Co. Londonderry/Derry Projects will receive £263,551.

Six projects under The Peace Barriers Programme will continue their efforts in bringing interface communities to a point where they are ready to discuss barrier transformation or removals in their area.

Through the IFI’s Peace Impact Programme a total of two projects will be funded for two years. These initiatives are working with some of the hardest to reach communities that suffer from high levels of economic and social deprivation where the Peace Process has delivered limited benefits.

Twenty one projects will be supported further via the Personal Youth Development Programme, which targets some of the most at risk young people in society. Typically, they will come from challenging circumstances including some who are vulnerable to polarisation or recruitment into paramilitary organisations. The Programme ultimately aims to build confidence and develop life skills that make young people more employable.

Welcoming the first funding package from Connecting Communities, IFI Chairman, Paddy Harte says:

“The IFI has made significant progress across a number of key areas in our peace and reconciliation work. We have played an important role in removing  Peace Walls and we helped to divert young people away from paramilitary recruitment and diffused tensions during times of serious civil unrest in the last year.

“While progress must be acknowledged, a number of challenges remain that will require urgent intervention to help improve community relations, reduce instability and the threat of violence.

“The impact of Covid 19, ongoing  political uncertainty and elections later this year in Northern Ireland alongside wider all island complexities around Brexit, the NI Protocol and increased calls for Border Polls indicate that tensions will continue to rise in communities who feel they have been left behind.”

The IFI currently delivers four key programmes and the latest financial support package will help develop initiatives over a four-year period.

The Peace Impact Programme will continue to engage with marginalised communities across sensitive issues that often require diversionary work. To date, projects have created over 1200 intra and cross-border relationships with more than 7400 participants involved in capacity building, training and events.

Likewise, the Peace Barriers Programme will continue to deliver long-term sustainable solutions and transformation within interface areas to break down remaining mental and physical barriers. Over 3400 participants are currently engaged with projects and 77% are in favour of Peace Barrier removal or reduction.

The Personal Youth Development Programme is truly unique in its approach and delivery with at risk young people. It will increase efforts to divert young people away from criminal behaviour towards programmes, training and initiatives that create better futures. Thanks to this programme more than 3,200 young people have achieved a ranged of accreditations and 528 are in further education and training.

The new Communities In Partnership Programme has a strong border focus and will build resilience in the face of uncertainty and friction and support the development of local leadership. Projects involved aim to  build genuine connections on a cross-border basis, which in turn give meaningful benefit to communities involved.

Mr Harte adds:

“The IFI works on a cross community and cross border basis through its targeted programmes, seeking to achieve a more peaceful and shared society. Given the complexity of issues that many communities are currently facing on the ground, it is evident that there is a clear need for the independent support delivered by the IFI, especially in many hard to reach areas that are witnessing rising tensions.

“We are one of the few organisations with the required experience to negotiate the difficult and challenging conversations that lie ahead. Collaboration between partners and statutory agencies will be key in creating a truly shared future. It is time to break the cycle of instability, suffering and violence and to help prevent further trauma being passed on to future generations.”

The funding was announced at the IFI’s recent Board meeting in Rathmullan, Co.Donegal. The Chairman took the opportunity to thank the international donors to the Fund - the European Union, British and Irish Government as well as the Governments of the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - for their support.

Co Derry/ Londonderry projects receiving funding:

Personal Youth Development Programme

  • £87,422 to Causeway Rural & Urban Network
  • £81,891 to Maghera Cross Community Link
  • £94,238  to Roe Valley Residents Association
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