Statement of Purpose

The Peace III Programme is seeking to build on the successes of Peace I and Peace II.  As a Programme that has been alive in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties since 1995 the EU has delivered significant investment into the region, and as a result many thousands of peace-building activities have taken place.

The cluster Councils of Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon and Newry & Mourne have been advocates and supporters of the Peace Programme, and have developed a reputation locally and regionally as Councils’ that makes real the values such as partnership working, acknowledging and working through difficult issues, inclusion and civic leadership.

We are seeking to further develop the Peace Programme in the sub-region to:

  • Strengthen and progress the inroads already made in building better community relations, acknowledging issues and various roles in the conflict, tackling sectarianism and racism through good relations, community support, community safety and other delivery;
  • Enhance further our civic leadership role;
  • Develop further partnerships both with other Councils and public bodies, and from the bottom up to enhance and strengthen existing civic partnerships with voluntary and community organisations;
  • Promote cross border working within the cluster area and in partnership with co-terminus Council areas in Ireland;
  • Help stimulate real change through a more co-ordinated and strategic approach to tackling hard issues.

The Plan demonstrates a significant commitment by the participating Councils and the Transitional Partnership to good relations and tackling the most contentious reconciliation issues.  The Plan clearly demonstrates, as one example only:

  • The commitment to focus on highly contentious areas such as Portadown, Lurgan and South Armagh (with some of the most  high profile and difficult community relations problems during the conflict and afterwards);
    • The commitment to work directly at interface areas in these and other target areas;
    • The commitment to develop cross community leadership and other initiatives at interfaces in these areas.

This provides very substantial good relations commitment from these Councils and areas, a willingness to take risks and to engage in issues that some Councils would continue to shy away from.  The good relations, reconciliation and community impact of initiatives such as these, and the steps forward taken by the local authorities in this Plan, need to be recognised and valued.  Any lack of recognition may actually damage the process of engagement by the Councils, especially when the commitment to good relations and reconciliation is so clear and evident.

The overall objective of Peace III is to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society and promote reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region.  Within Priority One “Reconciling Communities”, there are two key areas:

  • Building positive relations at the local level;
  • Acknowledging the past.

The core intent of the Priority is to “challenge attitudes towards sectarianism and racism and to support conflict resolution and mediation at the local community level”.  It seeks strategic collaboration between the public, private and community sectors focussing on reconciliation cultural diversity and equality.  It also has a particular focus on cross-border initiatives to improve trust and tolerance and to reduce the levels of sectarianism and racism.

As such, we have developed this Plan in association with all Councils, and consistent with good community planning processes, with the open participation of local communities through many open meetings and facilitated feedback.

We are also committed to making community consultation a core part of the development and revision of this Plan over the years of its implementation.  We have included commitment to consultation in each Council area on an annual basis, specifically related to the operation of the Peace Programme and how the Plan may change as a living document, according to need.

The Peace Plan below is an interim Plan given the desirability of the Transitional Partnership to work closely with the local community to develop a detailed statement of their needs and aspirations.  As such, we regard this Plan as a useful; starting point for joining up local services and allocating funds to projects under the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (Peace III).