The International Fund for Ireland (IFI) has announced its latest round of funding aimed at supporting some of the most vulnerable communities in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.
A funding package of £4,322,833 / €4,884,800 will provide support to 25 projects across the IFI’s four programmes, all aimed at delivering tailored support to communities who need it.
The funding allocation comes at an important juncture in peace and reconciliation across the island of Ireland, with local communities dealing with a range of challenges that are impacting community relations and prosperity.
Rathmullan The Way Forward CLG and Enterprise Causeway Limited will partner to deliver an 18-month cross-border ‘Coasts, Hills, and Glens – Connecting Communities’project across Rathmullan in County Donegal and Coleraine in County Derry/ Londonderry. The project is focused on Community Innovation and aims to connect groups, committees, and their representatives in meaningful ways to enable joint working on community needs, issues, and challenges.
Under the IFI’s Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP) £182,382 has been allocated to Causeway Rural and Urban Network for 21 months to deliver the cross-community ‘BREAK’ project. Working with 20 disenfranchised young people from across the religious divide in Coleraine, providing skills and training to help remove barriers to employment and education, and enable capacity building.
IFI Chair Paddy Harte said,
“Unfortunately, we have seen the threat of paramilitary recruitment and antisocial behaviour persist in many communities. In the last year, the IFI’s programmes have included specialised interventions to divert young people away from the threat of paramilitary recruitment. In 2022, 23,033 participants took part in accredited training, education, and capacity building programmes, delivered by IFI funded projects.
“Projects funded across our four core programmes have been working hard to support local communities who are struggling. The cost-of-living crisis has put a significant financial burden on people, add to that a general lack of investment in some communities and ongoing tensions relating to the recent Windsor Framework and ongoing political instability, and you can see why this support is so vital.
“This latest round of funding further demonstrates the wide range of support offered by IFI funded projects, tailored to specific needs of a particular community. From engaging at risk young people, to delivering conflict transformation initiatives, delivering important employment, and training opportunities to working in hard-to-reach areas struggling with paramilitary and coercive control.”
The Peace Impact Programme (PIP) will receive €591,876 / £523,784 across two separate projects, delivering work through sensitive interventions in communities that have not previously, or have only partially, participated in peace building and reconciliation activities.
€3,166,102 / £2,801,860 has been allocated to 16 projectswithin the Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP),supporting some of the most at-risk young people in society, developing their personal and professional skills with an aim to improving their future prospects.
The Peace Barriers Programme (PBP) which has been operating since 2012 will receive €357,388 / £316,273funding across two projects who will work towards facilitating and supporting communities living on or near an interface to consider and engage on the potential removal of peace walls.
The newest of the IFI’s four programmes – Communities in Partnership Programme (CiPP), set up in 2022 focuses on building resilience and empowering communities to develop strong cross-border partnerships. A total of five projects will share €769,434 / £680,916 funding.
The IFI Chair added,
“In this important year, as we reflect on the achievements and challenges which the IFI has faced since the signing of the Good Friday/ Belfast Agreement in 1998, we must also consider how we ensure that the next twenty-five years sees those communities which the IFI supports fully realise the dividends of the Peace Process.
“It is important to acknowledge the ongoing support from our international donors who recognise the importance of the work of the IFI and the incredible commitment of thefunded groups and the individuals leading them. Their interventions and engagement in some of our most hard to reach communities shows just how important local leadership is.”
The IFI was set up by the British and Irish Governments as an independent international organisation in 1986. It delivers a range of peace and reconciliation initiatives across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties. It currently supports a total of 47 projects in Northern Ireland and 19 in the southern border counties.
The IFI’s International donors include the British and Irish Governments, Government of the United States of America, European Union, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.