CFNI's Kat Healy (left) and Monina O'Prey at the launch of the CIT2 evaluation.
Communities in Transition Report Calls for Support to Marginalised and Excluded Communities
The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Communities in Transition 2 Programme held a launch for their external evaluation in Belfast.
The Programme also launched a series of policy briefs, outlining critical lessons from the work they have been carrying out across Northern Ireland and was attended by more than 60 people, including policy makers, academics, community groups and politicians
Taking place at the Farset Complex in Belfast on Friday 5th October, the launch featured presentations from local community activists who have seen their local areas improved by the Communities in Transition Programme.
Avila Kilmurray, Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI) spoke at the event, which also included a keynote address from Billy Gamble, from the International Fund for Ireland.
In 2007, the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI) launched the Communities in Transition 2 (CIT2) Programme, with funding from the International Fund for Ireland.
The programme aimed to identify and address the issues of cultural, economic and political alienation of community groups within areas of weak community infrastructure that are experiencing community tension.
Working in areas such as Lurgan, Dungannon, Ballymena and the Parkmore estate in Craigavon, CIT2 worked with communities to solve a wide range of problems.
Contention surrounding bonfires, flags, paramilitary influence, drugs, sectarianism and racism, along with a number of other issues were worked on by the CIT2 Programme in close partnership with communities who were suffering most.
Mike Morrissey, who carried out the external evaluation of the CIT2 Programme said, “A key message from CIT2 is that in many places in Northern Ireland, community development is a necessary, but not sufficient, process for mobilising communities.
“At a local level, there continues to be a legacy of conflict that needs to be addressed. This is not to belittle the achievements of the Peace Process, but cooperation and sharing at the top do not necessarily translate into pluralism and inclusivity on the streets.
“While regional surveys, like the NI Life and Times, continue to report improvement in community relations attitudes, other research focused on specific areas (for example Belfast Interface Project, 2004 and Concilium, 2012) continues to show suspicion, fear and division at community level.
“The PSNI Hate Crimes database provides evidence of a continuing large number of sectarian incidents and a growing number of racist incidents.
“Paramilitary organisations have split and re-split and even apart from the growth of dissident republicanism, there is evidence of loyalist paramilitary disenchantment with what has happened in the last decade – little gain from the Peace Process, the perceived policy use of the Historical Enquiries Team, alleged greater experience of deprivation by the Protestant working class.
“In these circumstances, the imperative is for a form of community development that is integrated with peacebuilding. Only by learning from the lessons of peacebuilding experience both in Northern Ireland and elsewhere can community development begin to assist communities to tackle the problems they face.
“Both CIT Programmes represent an important body of evidence on how this integration of peacebuilding and community development can work. The process has been a fundamentally learning one that policy makers can tap into".
For further information on the work of the Communities in Transition Programme or a copy of any of the publications, contact Kat Healy at email@example.com or 02871 371547.