Andrews announces £2 million fund for promoting reconciliation
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr David Andrews TD, has today announced government approval for an eight-fold increase, from £250,000 to £2 million, in the Department of Foreign Affairs' Reconciliation Fund for 1999.
Making the announcement, Minister Andrews said:
"This 800% increase in the Department of Foreign Affairs' Reconciliation Fund fulfils the Government's pledge in the Good Friday Agreement to "positively examine the case for enhanced financial assistance for the work of reconciliation." It offers enhanced opportunities for the concrete expression of the reconciliation elements of the Agreement.
The Good Friday Agreement underlines the need for reconciliation between the traditions on this island and the promotion of a culture of tolerance at every level of society.
While the political institutions we are working to put in place are a vital component of the overall settlement, they will only succeed in the long run if real tolerance and mutual understanding are built from the ground up. We need to defeat sectarianism, prejudice, and misunderstanding, which are the fuel of conflict and the enemies of peace.
The organisations involved in reconciliation work have, over many difficult years, played a significant role in developing a culture of greater mutual understanding and respect between and within communities and traditions in Northern Ireland, between North and South, and between Ireland and Britain.
In particular, from my numerous visits to the North in recent years I have first-hand experience of the valuable work being undertaken by very many cross-community groups and organisations throughout Northern Ireland, and within and across both communities. In many cases this work has been hindered by a lack of resources.
I hope this very substantial increase in the Government's funding for reconciliation will not only enhance this valuable and vital work, but will also encourage the development of significant and imaginative new initiatives". Top