Community Relations Programme
The Central Community Relations Unit (CCRU) has a large and diverse Community Relations Programme aimed at promoting greater cross-community contact between the main sections of the Northern Ireland community and increasing mutual understanding and respect for cultural diversity.
Initiatives under the Community Relations Programme include support for the Northern Ireland
Community Relations Council, the District Council Community Relations Programme, reconciliation bodies, cultural traditions groups, and the provision of community-based facilities which are accessible to both sides of the community.
Funding, Administration, and Policy Issues
The Community Relations Branch has responsibility
for the funding and administration of a number of community relations
initiatives, together with addressing policy issues on community
Government spending on community relations
has increased from £1.2m in 1988/89 to over £9m in 1998/99.
European funds add to this, making £13.1m available this
year for community relations programmes and projects.
Over the last eight years CCRU has introduced
the following major community relations initiatives:
- The Northern Ireland Community Relations
Council was established in January 1990 to provide support, facilities,
and recognition for community organisations operating at a local
level. The Council may appoint up to 24 members representing a
broad spectrum of community interests, up to one third of whom
are appointed by the Government. Its budget in 1998/99 is over
£2.5m; this includes a programme of core-funding for community
reconciliation and cultural tradition bodies, amounting to over
- Under the District Council Community
Relations Programme, the Government provides grant aid (£1.7m
in 1998/99) for programmes which command cross-political support
and encourage cross-community contact, mutual understanding and
awareness of cultural diversity.
The CCRU recently published "Guidelines for Developing a Community Relations Plan for District Councils"
- Over £220k will be spent in 1998/99
under the cultural traditions programme, aimed at encouraging
greater understanding of cultural diversity in Northern Ireland
and showing that differences do not have to lead to division.
A major element of this programme is encouraging people from both
main traditions to encounter and appreciate the culture of the
- Grant support is also provided towards
the development of community-based facilities which are accessible
to the main sections of the local community. The main criteria
are a cross-community management structure and the delivery of
cross-community programmes at all times.
In addition, under the Physical and
Social Environment Sub-Programme (PSEP), which runs from 1994
to 1999, the EU has allocated over £16.6m to assist community
reconciliation projects. One of the main objectives of this programme
is to reduce community divisions and to bring about a resolution
of tension and conflict. Under the first PSEP (1991-93) the EC
provided over £10m grant.
On 1 October 1997 CCRU organised a one day conference to bring together those groups who had received funding, between 1994 to mid 1997, under the Community Relations Measure of the Physical and Social Environment Sub-Programme (PSEP II). In conjunction with this conference the CCRU produced a Directory of those 67 projects which had received funding under the PSEP II initiative. The Project Directory was compiled to facilitate networking between the various groups. An Internet version of the contents of the Project Directory is now available.
- The EU Special Support Programme for
Peace and Reconciliation which commenced in 1995 has an overall
focus on issues which are relevant to the healing of communal
divisions. It has a specific measure, "Promoting Pathways
to Reconciliation", which focuses directly on community relations
projects. This is administered by the Community Relations Council
as an Intermediary Funding Body.