The Orange Order has received a grant of almost £900,000 from the European Union to help address the legacy of the Troubles in the Protestant community.
Seven full-time staff have been appointed to work on the project which is being financed until December 2014.
The STRIPE Project (Stepping Towards Reconciliation in Positive Engagement) received £884,022 from the Special EU Programmes Body.
Dr. Jonathan Mattison will be the project manager. He will be joined by a leadership development officer, Richard Forsythe and four development officers, Andrew Carisle, Joanne Honeyford, Flora Magee and Julian Thornton. An administrative officer, Heather Walker, will support the project which is based in Brownlow House, Lurgan.
Drew Nelson, Chairman of the Orange Community Network, said:
“The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland believes there is an imbalance of weak community infrastructure, low confidence and low levels of participation within the Protestant community, particularly in interface and border areas inNorthern Irelandand theRepublicofIreland. Grand Lodge also believes the Protestant community in interface and borders areas has suffered disproportionately during the Troubles.
“This project is about capacity building in the Protestant community and we greatly appreciate the support of the Special EU Programmes Body. An exciting part of the project will be identifying young leaders, building their capacity and developing their skills so that they can play a full role in shaping society.”
William McKeown, Grand Treasurer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said:
“We believe an unparalleled opportunity now exists to enhance confidence within the Protestant community to such a level that it feels able to take part in meaningful cross-community and cross-border strategies building towards lasting peace and reconciliation.
“The support of the European Union’s Peace III Programme will make a huge difference to our members and the wider Protestant community.
“The STRIPE project aims to lead marginalised Protestant communities towards reconciliation through enabling them to understand their identity, evaluate their own experience during the Troubles and to understand how mistrust between the two main communities in Ireland has undermined good relations.
“”It is envisaged that this will equip the Protestant community with the ability to engage with the wider community and to encourage it to re-engage as equal partners as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland moves forward.
“The ultimate aim is to allow the Protestant communities to become more comfortable in themselves and feel able to move forward with inter-community and cross border reconciliation.”
Pat Colgan, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body, welcomed the project saying:
“One of the aims of the PEACE III Programme is to promote wider engagement and the involvement of all sections of society in the reconciliation process. The STRIPE project is a very important project for the PEACE III Programme and is indicative of the great progress that has been made in Northern Ireland and Ireland over recent years. The project is truly regional in scope and with the planned outreach to over 400 local community groups it has the potential to engage a large number of people in PEACE III Programme related activities.”
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