£2m boost for Boys' visitor centre
More than £2 million worth of European Peace III money has been awarded to help the Apprentice Boys of Derry create a new shared future visitor centre.
The Siege Heroes Museum and Shared Space visitor centre will educate people about the 1689 stand-off between the Catholic King James' forces and garrison defenders inside the walls. It will build upon cross-community work already undertaken by the loyal order, officials said.
Shaun Henry, who helps manage the European fund, said: "Upon completion the new visitor's centre and refurbished memorial hall will enable the Apprentice Boys of Derry to promote mutual respect and tolerance, with all sections of society through a greater understanding of our shared past."
A core element of the project will be developing new teaching materials on the history of the Great Siege for primary and secondary schools, complementing information packs aimed at tourists and citizens of the city who have little engagement with the Apprentice Boys.
William Moore, general secretary of the Boys, said: "This new centre will greatly assist the Apprentice Boys to continue with their outreach work with all communities and promote a greater understanding of the ethos, history and culture celebrated by the association.
"This project will assist the Protestant community to play their role in being part of a shared city, where all traditions are welcomed and valued."
Matching funding for the project has been provided by the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in the Republic. Assistance has also been supplied by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Apprentice Boys.
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said: "This project will promote a shared and better future by presenting an informed view of an historic chapter in the history of Londonderry.
"It will also encourage greater levels of mutual respect as it enables the Apprentice Boys of Derry to reach out to more people from across the whole community both here in Northern Ireland and beyond."