International Fund for Ireland: Minister for Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland welcome five year strategy
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern T.D., and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, The Right Honourable Mr Peter Hain M.P., have welcomed a new initiative by the International Fund for Ireland to promote reconciliation in the North and border counties.
The launch of the five year strategy, entitled Sharing this Space, brings to an end much of the Fund's work in economic development, in favour of reconciliation, cross-community and cross-border links. It coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Fund's foundation by the Irish and British Governments in 1986 to channel international funding to marginalised communities. The US, EU, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all contributed to the Fund's work in the North and Southern border countries.
“This is a bold move by the Fund and proof of its ability to adapt to the new reality on the ground”, said Minister Ahern.
“The fact is that the needs of the North and border counties have changed substantially and for the better since 1986 – not least in economic terms. Reconciliation and cross-border links are the new priority and I'm pleased to see that the Fund is addressing these through this strategy.”
Minister Ahern also welcomed the Fund's focus on youth.
“The Fund's legacy will be the extent to which it has helped open the eyes of children and young people to the possibilities for a better future,” he said.
“The Fund has already achieved great things over the last 20 years. This strategy provides a clear blueprint for the consolidation and development of those successes over the remainder of the decade.”
The Secretary of State commented “This is an appropriate change in direction at this time given the greatly improved economic situation on both sides of the border. In these circumstances the Fund's decision to focus on reconciliation and integration themes is welcome and timely.”
Note to Editors:
The International Fund for Ireland is an international organisation established by the Irish and British Governments in 1986 with the objectives of promoting economic and social advance and of encouraging contact, dialogue and reconciliation between unionists and nationalists throughout Ireland. Contributors to the Fund are the United States, the European Union, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Its total expenditure since 1986 is more than €750m.
The Fund's budget for 2006 is €36 million. Funding priorities will include grassroots level reconciliation and cross-community projects. In addition, the Fund will seek to address the root causes of deprivation in the most disadvantaged areas by using shared economic concerns as a platform for regeneration and cross-community activity. The Fund will also continue its pioneering work with children and young people throughout the North and border counties.
18th January 2006