Dermot Ahern Announces Anti-Sectarianism Fund
Dermot Ahern TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, speaking in Belfast today, announced the establishment of an Anti-Sectarianism Fund which will help communities in Northern Ireland tackle sectarianism and promote tolerance.
This initiative stems from the programme for Government commitment to “establish a new Anti-Sectarianism Fund to assist projects in interface areas designed specifically to address the root cause of sectarianism and to diffuse tensions”. The Minister has sanctioned an initial outlay of €1m for this initiative.
Launching the Fund, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said – “Restoration of the power-sharing institutions on 8 May 2007 marked a major advance towards a society in Northern Ireland based on common purpose. It is essential that progress in this area is consolidated by addressing the divisions which continue to keep communities apart.”
“We have seen too often the horrific consequences of sectarian animosities, and have an obligation to break down these barriers. If the benefits of the improved political climate are to be enjoyed by all, we have to ensure that people in Northern Ireland, and throughout the island, irrespective of the tradition to which they belong, are encouraged to choose the path of tolerance and respect over discord and division.”
“This is a time of opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland, and on the island of Ireland as a whole. We look to the period ahead with hope and expectation but also with a keen eye to the tasks before us. Of the challenges facing us, the battle against sectarianism is among the most pressing. It is a serious threat to society, one that all too often has fatal results. It is vital that we not only eliminate sectarianism but also that we begin to eradicate ways of thinking that allow sectarianism to flourish.”
“The Irish Government is especially conscious of the important role that community based organisations play in combating sectarianism. The Anti-Sectarianism Fund will serve as a dedicated resource to support new, innovative and more effective ways of addressing sectarianism and division in society. I would encourage groups and individuals with specific and actionable ideas to apply to my Department for funding under this scheme. Together we can hasten an end to sectarianism in our society.”
Note for Editors
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., announced the launch of the Anti-Sectarianism Fund during his delivery of the annual St. Brigid’s Lecture in South Belfast (a copy of the address can be found here).
The purpose of the Anti-Sectarianism Fund is to assist local efforts aimed at tackling sectarianism, supporting projects in communities seeking new and more effective ways of addressing sectarianism and division in society. It is intended that a sum of €1 million will be available to assist suitable projects during 2008.
Grants will be given to individuals or organisations looking to develop new projects that will challenge intolerance and sectarianism and will break down barriers between people caused by religious and cultural differences. Assistance may be used for a specific project or as a contribution towards extending an existing programme.
Applications will be judged on potential concrete outcomes, and will be considered under the following criteria:-
Promotion of anti-sectarianism through education; dialogue
Promotion of tolerance and acceptance of cultural diversity;
Extending knowledge and understanding of others’ cultures, beliefs, traditions;
Reducing religious, social and cultural barriers;
Challenging stereotypes of one’s own and other communities/identities;
Raising awareness of how language and actions contribute towards sectarianism and intolerance;
Bringing people from different backgrounds together to work towards a common goal.
Applications should be addressed to:
Department of Foreign Affairs
78-80 St. Stephen’s Green
Application forms and guidelines are available here
Decisions are made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on foot of recommendations made by an Interdepartmental Advisory Committee which is drawn from a number of Government Departments. Decisions are reached on the basis of the eligibility criteria outlined above, the level of funding available each year and the number and quality of applications submitted. The Fund aims to ensure that the distribution of funds is as widespread and equitable as possible, based on the merit of individual proposals.
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