The communities of Ballymoney, Coleraine and Moyle celebrated the launch of a three-year cross-community project called Rooting for Change Together which is partly funded by the International Fund for Ireland.
The new project is delivering a package of community relations activities designed to break down misconceptions, forge links and promote dialogue and understanding between local communities.
Rooting for Change Together has been funded by the International Fund for Ireland through its Community Bridges Programme. It has also received funding from the Department for Social Development and Ballymoney Borough Council with some activities being funded through the North East Peace III Partnership’s Community Integration Programme.
Dr Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “This cross-community project is a very good example of the Fund’s peace building and reconciliation strategy at work. The three rural communities - Ballymoney, Coleraine and Moyle - have much in common and yet there have been incidents of social unrest and sectarian violence surrounding the celebrations of community traditions especially concerning flags, emblems, and parades.
“Grass roots projects that bring communities together to break down misconceptions and encourage contact and dialogue are vital if we are to bring about real and lasting positive change. By focusing on common interests and encouraging communities to take part in initiatives such as shared history projects, Unionists and Nationalists have the opportunity to understand each other’s culture and history and hopefully replace long-term fears with understanding.”
Councillor Thomas McKeown Deputy Mayor of Ballymoney, said: “Ballymoney Borough Council is very happy to welcome participants here today, both from our own Borough and from farther afield. We in Ballymoney are engaged in promoting community development and good relations through our Good Relations Strategy, which was developed alongside Coleraine, Limavady and Moyle Councils.
“I understand that this new project complements many of the themes of our strategy, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Community Resource Centre on securing this grant to engage in this important work of building better relations between communities across the Causeway Coast and Glens District. I believe it important for communities to come together socially, to establish friendships and to develop a better understanding of each other. It is my hope that schemes such as this will help to alleviate the many divisions of the past.”
Lyn Moffett, Co-ordinator for the Rooting for Change Together Project, said: “Ballymoney Community Resource Centre has been supporting the youth and community groups of Ballymoney and beyond for more than ten years now. Receiving this grant through IFI’s Community Bridges Programme means that we will be able to extend our community development support to many more groups and help them to build ever stronger relationships with their neighbours and give them both the capacity and the confidence to address some of the issues that can cause tensions in communities. We are very excited about this opportunity, and we are looking forward to helping participating groups to develop their own projects on cultural traditions, art and memorial and shared history.”
As part of the project small amounts of funding are being made available to some of the participating community groups to further develop good relations in their specific areas.