Minister of State Kitt visits Community Groups in Belfast
The Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Tom Kitt T.D., today visited a number of community groups working in interface areas in Belfast.
Minister Kitt met this morning with representatives form Inter-Action Belfast and the Shankill Community Forum, which are both situated in Farset Business Park on the Springfield Road, West Belfast. In the afternoon, the Minister went on to meet representatives from the Short Strand Community Forum, situated in East Belfast.
The Minister also availed of the opportunity to have separate discussions with the PUP and the UPRG.
Speaking after his meetings, the Minister said:
“I had the opportunity today to meet a number of community groups where I saw for myself the vital conflict resolution and development work that is being done by many people on the ground, on both sides of the community interface. I am greatly encouraged by the impressive work carried out on a daily basis by people of great commitment and vision.
I commend those who courageously work at the interface – often in challenging circumstances - to reduce tensions and improve the well-being of their communities. I hope that their efforts will be rewarded by another quiet summer on the streets of Belfast this year.
I told these groups that the Irish Government greatly values and is fully supportive of their work, particularly their constructive vision for a peaceful future in Northern Ireland. The values of positive engagement, reconciliation and tolerance reflected in this work are the same as those which underpin all our collective efforts to achieve a new beginning to relationships on the island of Ireland.
I have had the enormous privilege of working with my colleague Minister Cowen on this peace process for the last two years. Through my international work in other conflict situations, I have often pointed to the Northern Ireland Peace Process as a mature and advanced one. It is my belief that we need to continue to work hard in reconciliation here and indeed step up our efforts.
I also welcomed the opportunity to meet representatives of the PUP and the UPRG. As the Taoiseach has made clear on a number of occasions, the Irish Government recognises that the loyalist tradition must play a full role in the dispensation of partnership we are trying to create on the island. I told the loyalist representatives that we greatly valued the engagement with them and encouraged them to continue their constructive work on the ground, particularly as we approach the challenges of the summer period.”
Note for Editors:
Inter-Action Ireland, formerly known as the Springfield Inter-Community Development Project, works to promote tolerance and greater understanding, to reduce community divisions and to improve the quality of life of the communities who live at the Falls/Shankill interface.
The Shankill Community Forum, is an umbrella organisation which comprises 150 community-based groups who work in partnership to build a strong, dynamic and capable community sector in this predominately unionist area.
The Short Strand Community Forum, comprises 23 different community groups who work to develop a strong community infrastructure and a peaceful environment at the local interface in this predominately nationalist area. Top