Belfast Telegraph

Peace process watchdog approves Alexandra Park

Members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement last week visited north Belfast and received an insight into how the European Union is supporting peace and reconciliation work across Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement was established in October 2000 and is made up of representatives from both the Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann. It is responsible for all issues connected with Ireland’s role as a signatory to the Good Friday Agreement and any ongoing developments in its implementation.

Pat Colgan, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “Following its official launch in 2007 the PEACE III Programme has allocated approximately £236m worth of support to a wide range of projects across the region. We are just over halfway through the current programming period and there is still approximately £66m remaining to be allocated to worthwhile projects that will reinforce peace and stability.”

Dominic Hannigan TD and elected chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, said: “I am delighted to have seen evidence of the very substantial investment from the European Union PEACE III programme creating effective results in north Belfast.”

Following the presentation by the SEUPB the Oireachtas Joint Committee members were taken to Groundwork NI to hear about the ‘Reconciling Communities through Regeneration’ project, which has received just under £1m worth of support from the EU’s PEACE III Programme.

This funding will allow Groundwork NI to implement a series of locally focused initiatives specifically designed to transform interface areas in ten different locations across Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Since October 2008, Groundwork NI has been engaging with various different local community groups surrounding Alexandra Park with the aim of improving community relations and encouraging cross-community dialogue.

It recently launched a new ‘peace gate’ within the peace wall that cuts through the park in order to create a shared neutral space for a community divided by sectarianism.

Sylvia Gordon, Director of Groundwork NI said: “The opening of the peace gate is a first step towards bringing both communities together through a recreational space and we would hope this will have a direct and positive impact on the daily lives of people who live within the area of the park.”

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