DUNGANNON & South Tyrone Borough Council and community organisation, STEP, today unveiled £7 million worth of European Union funding for a major peace and reconciliation initiative in the town.
The EARLS Project aims to boost community interactions in Dungannon with the construction of a new 30,000 sq. ft. community building and the redevelopment of an interface area into a shared events and leisure space.
New pathways will link communities with the development, which spans Castlehill in the north of the town and Railway Park in the south.
Primary funding for the project is provided by the EU’s PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), with match-funding support from the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in Ireland.
Part of the funding will go towards a range of activities aimed at addressing issues of division and a public sculpture symbolising reconciliation will create a focal point in the regenerated shared space.
Welcoming the project Lorraine McCourt, Director with the SEUPB, said: “This is an ambitious but exciting peace and reconciliation project that will help to transform Dungannon town into a more integrated and welcoming civic space.
“It will create new opportunities for positive cross-community interaction that will have a positive and long-term impact upon the lives of local people.
“This is one of the key objectives of the EU’s PEACE III Programme which supports projects that create new physical environments that can help overcome sectarianism, racism and other forms of social prejudice”, she continued.
Mayor of Dungannon, Cllr Sean McGuigan said: “This is a significant development and will have a major benefit to the people and communities of the Borough.
“It is pleasing that during the final year of this Council, we will see commencement of such an important and timely transformation in the town. The project will support closer community interactions and opportunities to share in new activities and events. That’s an achievement we can all be proud of and will be a part of the legacy of this Borough. A lot of work has gone into securing the funds by Council and STEP for this much-needed regeneration project and we are committed to completing it on time in the Autumn of 2015. We are grateful to our funders for their support and look forward to sharing further updates on this ambitious scheme in the very near future.”
Ann McGlone, Chairperson of STEP said: “The success of the project in getting this far is testimony to perseverance and the power of ordinary people working together. It will sustain and strengthen the community consortium in its shared commitment to building a participative and peaceful society which protects rights, respects difference and embraces diversity. It will provide a community building in which everyone can belong.”
Managed by STEP, the new community building will consist of both commercial workspaces and shared spaces which accommodate cross-community peace and reconciliation activities.
The EARLS Project will be delivered in partnership between the Council and a community consortium that includes STEP a not-for-profit community organisation that supports local people and community development.