Community projects in the Banbridge and Dromore areas are set to benefit from share of a multi-million pound funding package.
The £4.9m PEACE IV Programme for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon was launched at the Palace Demesne in Armagh on October 26.
The cross-border initiative, financed through the European Union and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), is designed to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland. In addition to supporting peace and reconciliation, the programme also contributes to the promotion of social and economic stability, in particular through actions to promote cohesion between communities.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has designed a series of projects, initiatives and events under three priorities - Children and Young People, Shared Spaces and Services, and Building Positive Relations. The emphasis will be on delivery of sports, community and good relations projects across the council area up to 2020, with the aim of developing and promoting community relations, respect, diversity and active citizenship.
With a budget of £4.9 million, this is will be an ambitious programme of work that will involve personnel from across the council and staff within its delivery partners (Education Authority and Ulster University). Projects will range from youth sports initiatives to dialogue programmes and training opportunities.
The programme will also focus on addressing sectarianism and racism, and through interventions in areas of social deprivation, there will also be an opportunity to reach those most affected by inequality, segregation and limited life choices.
One of the flagship projects is the development of a new floodlit 3G multi-sports pitch at St Patrick’s College in Banbridge. The £1.5m partnership project will provide a new sports and recreation resource for the school, local clubs and the wider community.
Community and voluntary organisations across the borough can also apply for project funding from the new PEACE IV Grants Programme.
Launching the new phase of the PEACE Programmes, Lord Mayor Gareth Wilson said: “We are delighted that the new PEACE IV project is tailored to a common need and places a strong emphasis on breaking down barriers, improving community relations, providing sporting, recreation and training opportunities and creating spaces that all residents and communities can share. While much of this programme will be delivered by our council staff and partners, I am delighted that there are also opportunities for community and voluntary organisations to apply for funding for their own projects.”
Welcoming the funding award, Gina McIntyre Chief Executive Officer of the SEUPB said: “Local authority-led partnerships like Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon play an instrumental role in ensuring that EU PEACE funding is delivered where it is needed most. They represent the public, private and community sectors and as such are ideally placed to ensure that the funding provided promotes peace and reconciliation at a local level.”
PEACE IV Programme Manager John Devaney added: “PEACE IV brings new opportunities for the borough, with a variety of programmes for our communities. There is a particular focus on children and young people, creating shared space and addressing challenging issues through our dialogue and good relations projects. The programme will help to address common needs for all communities, but with an emphasis on reaching out to those who are most affected by social and economic deprivation. PEACE funds have been an important part of the peace and reconciliation building process over the past twenty years, and our work will still be driven towards reducing sectarianism and racism and enhancing cross-community interaction.”