Peace and Reconciliation
the Border Counties of Ireland
The Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland is a distinctive application of the European Union Structural Funds.
The Programme arose as a key element of the EU response to the Peace process in Northern Ireland, and was developed after an extensive process of consultation undertaken both by a Task Force of senior Commission officials and by the two Member States involved.
The Programme will operate over the period 1995 - 1999. However, funding has been allocated only for the period 1995 1997. Extension of the Programme beyond 1997 and the level of funding committed over that period will depend in large part on a report to be prepared by the European Commission. An important input into that report will be the Mid Term Review of the Programme, which is to be undertaken in late 1996 and early 1997.
The purpose of this report is to lay the foundations for the Mid Term Review of the Programme by identifying the key evaluation requirements and the means by which they can best be fulfilled.
This Report brings together the findings of parallel reviews of the Programme in Northern Ireland and in the Border Counties.
This Executive Summary provides a brief summary of the issues considered in the Report and of the conclusions which we reach. The Executive Summary follows the structure of the Report itself.
Section 2 of our Report is concerned with issues relating to the
overall impact of the Programme.
2.1 Aim & Objectives
The strategic aim of the Programme is
'to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society by increasing economic development and employment, promoting urban and rural regeneration, developing cross border co-operation, and extending social inclusion.'
The Programme has two strategic objectives
The prior appraisal of the Programme noted that
'The Programme will only be successful in achieving its aim if it not only promotes reconciliation, social inclusion and economic development but is widely seen to be doing so and its strategic purpose [reinforcing progress towards a peaceful and stable society] is widely understood.'It is, therefore, necessary in the evaluation to measure both the objective degree of progress and the perception of that progress.
2.3 Expected Impacts of the Programme
The Programme does not indicate the expected form of it impacts or the quantities which might be associated with those impacts.
Section 2 derives the following statements of the desired forms of impacts of the programme from a careful analysis of the Programme document and other documentation
These 'impact statements' are used throughout the Report
as the core of the logical structure to the evaluation approach
which we develop.
2.4 Baseline Profiles
Appendix 1 provides brief baseline profiles of the following issues
2.5 Distribution of the Benefits & Implementation or Delivery Mechanisms
Other elements of the overall impact of the Programme include
The evaluation of the Programme will need to identify the degree
to which the Programme has, in fact, distributed expenditure to
the targeted communities and the benefits which arise from this
skewing and from the creation of new delivery mechanisms. Section
2 identifies a number of issues relevant to both aspects of the
2.6 Appropriateness of Indicators
Good baseline indicators for the Programme would be
Few, if any, macro-indicators meet these criteria. In particular, Census data (including analyses developed from Census data such as the Robson analysis of deprivation in Northern Ireland) does not meet these criteria and, while of value in the targeting of spatial concentrations of deprivations, is not likely to be of use in the monitoring and evaluation of the Programme.
The Department of Finance and Personnel has undertaken a bespoke survey of issues relevant to the evaluation of the Programme. The Omnibus Survey was undertaken prior to the operational launch of the Programme. Replication of the Omnibus Survey in time for the Mid Term Review will be an important element of the evaluation of the Programme. We recommend that a similar survey, suitably adjusted, should also be undertaken in the Border Counties to establish an attitudinal baseline for the Programme in the Border Counties.
However, while the Omnibus Survey data is free from most of the deficiencies of Census data, the detected shifts in attitudes, values and behaviour will be influenced greatly by factors other than the direct impact of the Programme. The Omnibus Survey data cannot, therefore, be seen as a means of directly measuring the impact of the Programme on intercommunity values and behaviour.
In relation to these issues, the Omnibus Survey will still provide important information on changes in attitudes, values and behaviour in the general population in Northern Ireland, against which changes detected in those directly participating in the Programme can be assessed.
The Omnibus Survey will also provide important evaluation information
in relation to knowledge and awareness of the Programme and its
operation and perception of the Programme's impacts on the various
priorities. This is also important information, especially as
the importance of the perception of the impact of the Programme
was identified in the prior appraisal as an important element
of the overall evaluation
2.7 Reference Indicators
Although there are few good baseline indicators at the highest
- or macro-level of the Programme, it is useful to record the
current position of key indicators in Northern Ireland and in
the Border Counties. A selection of such information is provided
in Appendix 2.
2.8 Expected Employment Impact
The economic impact of the Programme will be assessed principally by means of a survey of the employment which it creates.
Appendix 3 provides an indication of the potential impact of the
Programme on employment in Northern Ireland and in the Border
Counties. Using the ratios of employment to expenditure employed
in the Northern Ireland Single Programme, it is estimated that
some 6080 job years of employment might be generated by the proposed
expenditure. The Appendix also provides a number of other estimates
of possible employment impacts, at the upper level of the range
up to 18,750 job years of employment could be generated if a range
of supply side impacts is achieved. Most of the anticipated jobs
impact occurs in Northern Ireland, rather than the Border Counties,
reflecting the proposed pattern of expenditure.
2.9 Issues Arising from the Sub-programme Review
Arising from the detailed review of the Sub-programmes undertaken in the Northern Ireland and Border Counties studies, Section 2 identifies a number of issues important to the overall evaluation of the Programme, these include
While the Sub-programme review identifies a number of possible improvements in the indicators in the Programme document, we do not favour ad hoc variation of individual indicators to meet the overall evaluation requirements of the Programme. Such ad hoc variation would not be effective and would tend to focus monitoring and evaluation on the Measure level impacts, rather than meso-level impacts at the level of Sub-programmes and the overall aim and objectives of the Programme. Instead, we propose a series of 'core indicators' which are intended to meet the strategic monitoring and evaluation requirements of the Programme.
Section 3 sets out our proposed approach to the monitoring and evaluation of the Programme. The analysis in the Section distinguishes between the highest- or macro-, intermediate- or meso- and micro-level evaluation requirements. As our focus is on the strategic evaluation of the Programme. our recommendations relate principally to the macro- and meso-level evaluation requirements.
As we noted above, the Omnibus Survey is central to the macro-level evaluation of the Programme in Northern Ireland.
Role of the Omnibus Survey
The Omnibus Survey can directly provide impact information in relation to knowledge and awareness of the Programme and perceptions of its impacts. However, the Omnibus Survey can provide only contextual information in relation to the impact of the Programme in relation to social distance and social inclusion. In relation to these factors we propose a 'bottom up approach'. Careful design of the bottom up questioning and of the replication of the Omnibus Survey will facilitate the task of disentangling the effects of the Programme and of the wider, and greater, effect of the general degree (or lack of) progress of the Peace process.
It is important, in our view that a social attitude baseline survey similar to the Omnibus Survey in structure, but adapted to local circumstances, is undertaken in the Border Counties.
Economic Impact of the Programme
The economic impact of the Programme will be assessed primarily by means of a survey of the employment which is created.
The Programme has a number of specifically economic components. Section 3 identifies a number of macro-economic variables which may be influenced by the economic components of the Programme.
Other Macro-Level Requirements
The remaining macro-level monitoring and evaluation requirements of the Programme are as follows
3.2 Meso-Level Monitoring & Evaluation Requirements
Given the difficulty of finding suitable macro-level indicators for the monitoring and evaluation of the Programme, effective monitoring and evaluation arrangements at the meso-level are essential.
The Report recommends that a set of 'core indicators' should be put in place related to each of the 5 impact statements for the Programme, which were developed in Section 2.
Section 3 develops a small number of core indicators for the Programme under each of the impact statements. These are not the same as Sub-programme or Measure indicators. The core indicators have been developed deliberately to cut across the Programme structure so that each core indicator can be effected by a number of Sub-programmes.
Section 3 shows how the core indicators can be combined with an analysis of the distributional impacts of the Programme to develop a sophisticated matrix of Programme impacts which will show the actual participation of socially excluded groups, the economically disadvantaged and disadvantaged areas in Programme activities.
3.3 Micro-Level Monitoring & Evaluation Requirements
In relation to micro-level monitoring and evaluation it is important to distinguish between the requirements at Programme level and those at the Measure level. Our concern is with the former set of issues but we recognise that there are a number of issues which will require monitoring and evaluation at the Measure level and which go beyond the issues we discuss.
In relation to projects in Northern Ireland and to cross border projects with a reconciliation aim, we recommend that the Identity Structure Analysis approach which has been applied to the evaluation of the reconciliation aspects of the Physical and Social Environment Sub-programme of the Northern Ireland Single Programme should be applied to the appropriate Sub-programmes of the Programme.
The results of individual Identity Structure Analyses can be aggregated to provide meso-level as well as micro-level data and to assist in the disentangling of the influence of the Programme on the overall movement recorded in the Omnibus Survey.
We recommend that in Northern Ireland the Central Community Relations
Unit of the Department of Finance and Personnel should take responsibility
for this work and have a co-ordinating role in data gathering
and analysis for the Programme.
Section 4 provides a brief restatement of the main issues arising and conclusions reached in the Report.
The Programme is complex and is aimed at addressing problems which are also complex and enduring and at realising new opportunities. Inevitably, the evaluation of such a Programme will also be complex.
The proposed monitoring and evaluation system which we recommend is, in our view, the minimum framework necessary for effective monitoring and evaluation of the Programme and we believe that it can be implemented without imposing excessive burdens on Departments, Intermediary Funding Bodies, District Partnerships or Programme participants.