A final event marking the conclusion and celebrating the success of ABC Council’s PEACE IV funded Local Authority Action Plan, which has seen over 150 projects community, sporting and capital projects delivered since 2017, was held in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh on Tuesday 22 March.
The Action Plan was funded through the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The programme was designed to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland. In addition to supporting peace and reconciliation, the programme also contributes to the promotion of social and economic stability, in particular, through actions to promote cohesion between communities. Match-funding was provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
Speaking at the event, Lord Mayor Alderman Glenn Barr said: “Well done to everyone involved in developing and implementing the Local Action Plan. It has been a great success and will leave a lasting legacy, engaging with 4,000 participants and supporting 150 individual projects.
Projects spanned the entire borough and brought communities together through local engagement programmes, sport and recreation initiatives for children and young people, training programmes, community grant schemes, capital projects and cultural, arts and history programmes.
PEACE funding has played an important role in providing opportunities to bring people and communities together over the past 25 years as this is strongly evidenced through the local PEACE IV Action Plan.”
With a budget of £4.9 million, this ambitious action plan was managed by the council’s PEACE IV team and its delivery partners, the Education Authority and Ulster University. Its three priorities focused on Children and Young People, Shared Spaces and Services, and Building Positive Relations.
Reflecting on the accomplishments of the Council’s PEACE IV Action Plan, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “We are all aware of the need to provide opportunities to improve cross-community and cross-border relations, and wherever possible, help integrate all communities. Local Authorities across Northern Ireland and the border counties are best placed to deliver upon this work with support from the EU PEACE IV Programme.
“Approximately one third of the programme’s value has been allocated to local authorities to ensure that funding is provided where it is needed most, to ensure it will make a positive impact on the lives of many thousands of people.
“Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon’s Local Authority Action Plan is a great example of delivering on this and has facilitated some truly innovative activities and projects that have made a meaningful difference within the borough and beyond. I would like to congratulate all council staff and delivery partners and organisations on their efforts to uphold the key aims of the PEACE IV Programme in continuing to support peace and encourage reconciliation.”
One of the flagship projects was the development of a new floodlit 3G multi-sports pitch at St Patrick’s College in Banbridge. This £1.6m partnership project (shared investment from PEACE IV, the Council and Sport NI) now provides a new sports and recreation resource for the school, local clubs and the wider community.
Over 2,000 participated in the Children and Young People programmes, which had a particularly strong focus on sport, leisure and recreation. Activity ranged from a programme of multi-sports sessions for children at 20 council MUGA sites, to diversionary projects for young adults, and a physical activity programme aimed at young unemployed people.
The Building Positive Relations programme included a series of engagement and capacity building projects for communities at interface areas and comprised shared history projects that explored the war links between Northern Ireland and Poland; a series of accredited programmes on generalist advice training; a community restorative justice partnership engagement project with Northern Ireland; a series of culture, arts, crafts and heritage projects with local community groups; youth and adult resilience programmes; a variety of sport and recreation projects aimed at youth and adult; and online courses and lectures that focused on the 1912-1925 period in Irish, British and world history.
Projects for 19 community and voluntary organisations across the borough were also supported through grant-aid from three small grants schemes.
For more information on the PEACE IV Programme, visit seupb.eu