THE International Fund for Ireland has unveiled a total of £1,241,435 funding against a challenging backdrop to support those delivering much needed interventions within the community sector.
Nine community based initiatives across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties have been successful in the latest round of allocations.
Two projects situated in North Belfast, an area which suffered significantly during The Troubles, have been successful.
Twaddell & Woodvale Residents Association has received £226,877 for their efforts under the Fund’s Peace Impact Programme, which works with the most marginalised communities who have been left behind by the Peace Process.
TASCIT will use £181,003 to continue an initiative under the Peace Walls Programme- engaging with residents in the heart of interface areas, where the legacy of the conflict still impacts everyday life.
The absence of a functioning Executive for over two years in Northern Ireland coupled with the uncertainty around Brexit, has had a considerable impact on areas that have yet to realise a direct dividend from the Peace Process.
Reduced public spending and budget constraints are eroding the community confidence that was once in place, heightening tensions and affecting peace building efforts.
Paddy Harte, the new Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland says: “The biggest challenge we are currently facing is uncertainty and the fear of the unknown.
“Tensions are increasing across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties, and some communities are certainly feeling more polarised than ever without those political structures in place.
“Despite the enormous progress that has been made in recent years, the current political impasse and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, along with growing tensions within some communities are all playing directly into the hands of those intent on inciting violence and radicalising young people through paramilitary recruitment.
“It is essential to maintain momentum in peace building across the island of Ireland.
“The Fund has never shied away from difficult conversations and is the only organisation that can effectively address the challenges surrounding sustainable peace on this island.
“Whilst communities in Northern Ireland may feel frustrated and abandoned by the political process, we are fully committed to delivering stability and opportunity.
“The IFI will continue to engage in marginalised communities and put a sharp focus on improving cross-border relationships in order to address legacy issues and achieve positive and lasting transformation.”
Alfie McCrory, Vice-Chair of Twaddell and Woodvale Residents’ Association said: “We are delighted that the IFI is continuing to support our work through the Peace Impact Programme.
“The funding over the past number of years has made a tremendous difference locally and it will enable us to consolidate this change and build on our successes.
“We will continue to support people into work through the provision of a range of training programmes that increase skills and capacity as well as address the ongoing legacy of the conflict in the area.
“We have seen the difference the programme has made to people’s lives with many finding sustainable employment for the first time because of the training they have taken part in.
“This is a direct outcome of the investment from the International Fund for Ireland.”
Rab McCallum from TASCIT Steering group added: “We are pleased to receive the news of another year’s support for the work of the TASCIT project.
“We are currently implementing plans that could bring about significant change to Peace Walls and barriers in at least four sites in the course of the next financial year.
“Without the support of IFI this would not have been possible. We look forward to the possibilities that this new funding will bring.”
The funding packages announced are geographically spread across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland, highlighting the need that still exists in local communities for continued support.
The new Chairman took the opportunity to thank the international donors to the Fund – the European Union and the Governments of the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – for their support.
Further information about all the beneficiaries from the International Fund for Ireland’s latest funding package is available at the International Fund for Ireland’s website: www.internationalfundforireland.com