£7m from EU to turn Derry interface into shared village
A Londonderry interface has been awarded more than £7 million of funding from the European Union to create a shared village.
The Irish Street and Top of the Hill area witnessed serious violence during the Troubles, but over recent years concerted efforts by community representatives has helped ease tensions considerably.
The area will now be transformed by the Waterside Shared Village project, which will include a central community hub building and a sports complex.
Welcoming the development, Derry City and Strabane District Council mayor John Boyle explained that the project would deliver a wide range of programmes aimed at building a closer relationship between the two communities in the Waterside.
He said that the residents could look forward to accessing a state-of-the-art facility when the project is completed.
He said: "Community groups and the Neighbourhood Partnership in the Irish Street and Top of the Hill areas have worked strategically together with council to achieve this major funding, which will transform the interface area.
"The shared project will deliver a range of cross-community programmes for all ages, including sports programmes, after-schools clubs, summer schemes, youth programmes, early years programmes and a series of festivals."
Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson said he was pleased the two communities had been consulted on what they felt was needed in the area and that their voices had been listened to. He added: "After consultation with the local community, a community hall was identified as a specific need from groups in Top of the Hill and in Irish Street.
"I am delighted that this has been taken on board and a community space has been provided within the development, along with changing facilities.
"This is fantastic news for sporting groups that are operating in Top of the Hill and Irish Street areas, who regularly have to travel outside of the area to train or play matches.
"We have seen many examples of how sport can bring people from different backgrounds together.
"This former school site is the perfect location to do exactly that by transforming an area that was once seen as an interface into a truly shared space."
Mr Jackson said the announcement was testament to the work ongoing at a community level between organisations in the area.
The councillor added: "We are now able to move forward and build relationships in a way that was unthinkable only a few years ago."