Beyond Belfast Research Report update

RCN and CRC launched the “Beyond Belfast” Research Report at Oxford Island Discovery Centre on Friday 26th November 2010. CRC has over many years been actively engaged in interface work within Belfast; however it recognised alongside RCN that there needed to be a more strategic approach and process of engagement within interface communities outside Belfast. As Michael Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, highlighted “Peace walls may be associated with Belfast, but segregation is a province wide problem.”


Beyond Belfast Research Report Update:

The Community Relations Council acknowledged the complex features at interfaces and through the development of an interface working group, they attempted to provide a co-ordinated and focused approach on all the issues that impact on communities at interface areas. CRC also wanted to identify how communities could be supported to explore interface issues and what might be needed to reduce/soften or remove barriers whilst ensuring safety.

Following the development of the “Challenge for Change report”, CRC and OFMDFM identified the need to develop a strategic approach and process of engagement with interface communities. During the same period, Rural Community Network was heavily engaged in advocating the need for community relations issues to be explored and addressed in rural areas as there are psychological and emotional boundaries that impact on the daily way of life for rural communities.

On this basis, and through a long standing relationship between both organisations, the Community Relations Council, with support from the Interface working group, expanded its remit beyond Belfast in partnership with RCN and other key organisations.

As part of this, CRC and RCN commissioned this research to explore the issue of contested spaces beyond Belfast. The report goes some way to conceptualise and explore the dynamics of segregation, division and community tensions in cities, towns and villages beyond Belfast.  The report affirms that barriers do exist in many rural communities. These may not be physical or visible barriers, but they are barriers nonetheless and they have real effects in constraining and shaping the behaviour and attitudes of both individuals and communities. For many communities living in rural, border and urban areas beyond Belfast, there is a realisation that a piecemeal approach to addressing these issues is the norm. There is a need for something more strategic, which is centrally located within a strong and meaningful Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Programme.

For a copy of the Beyond Belfast report, please contact Bebhinn McKinley at Community Relations Council on 028 9022 7500 or email bmckinley@nicrc.org.uk