Belfast Telegraph

Opposites attracted to project bridging divide in Derry

BY BRENDAN McDAID

Old adversaries have united to try and prevent sectarian violence breaking out this marching season.

A project to try and bridge the gap between young people at Londonderry’s main interface has been launched by the Apprentice Boys of Derry and the Museum of Free Derry.

Both have come on board for the ‘Kids Kollections’ project which is hoped will help prevent clashes this summer.

Young Protestants and Catholics from the Fountain/ Bogside interface area and further afield are being brought together for the summer scheme.

Billy Moore from the Apprentice Boys said: “We want to attract as many people as possible and we are quite happy to work with the Verbal Arts Centre and the Museum of Free Derry if it means bringing people into our establishment.”

He added that he hoped the project would help with efforts to “downsize the potential for violence” by promoting cultural understanding.

Adrian Kerr from the Museum of Free Derry said: “Lack of understanding has led to problems in the past and this can go a way to helping address that.

“The more projects like this the better.”

Professional artists and facilitators will lead the project which organisers said is designed to “create new stories, symbols and cultural artefacts and tap into the history and traditions of both communities”. The pioneering project is being billed as a leap forward in healing community divisions among traditionally divided groups of people. It will run from July 22 through to August and will be free of charge.

The project will involve young Catholics and Protestants going to the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall to learn more about the Siege of Derry and the traditions and culture of the wider unionist community today.

The youths will likewise learn about the civil rights movement and pivotal events in Derry such as Bloody Sunday, Operation Motorman and internment without trial at the Museum of Free Derry.

The children will record their visits on video and will also look at other symbols of unification and division across the city, while jointly coming up with a set of new ones.

The scheme is the brainchild of Mhairi Sutherland, community engagement co-ordinator with the Verbal Arts Centre.

She said at the launch yesterday that around 70 children in two groups aged from 9-11 and 12-14 would be involved.

“The project is based on the idea of looking at different forms of cultural history,” she said. “It is a very positive effort to engage young people in looking at cultural traditions rather than ignoring them, and their own imagination and ideas are important in this project.

She added that there would be a public showcase of the work produced from the project at the Verbal Arts Centre, including charcoal drawings, photographs, writing and graffiti art from August 1.

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