Groups’ peace projects praised

Richmount Rural Community Association has celebrated another peace initiative along with Ballyoran Seniors Group.

Thursday, 4th July 2019, 11:57 am
Pictured are representatives from Richmount Rural Community Association, Ballyoran Seniors, Corduff/Raferagh Active retired Co Monaghan and Glenravel Community Association, Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Margaret Tinsley, Doug Beattie MLA and Jonny Buckley MLA together with Irene Smith from the DFA. Immediate front row L -R: Frances Hayes, Chair Ballyoran Seniors; Letty Houston, Richmount Rural Community Association, Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Margaret Tinsley; Joe Garvey, Chair Richmount Rural Community Association; Irene Smith, DFA and Mary McDonnell, Corduff/Raferagh Active Retired.

The £6k project, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Reconciliation Fund, was entitled: “Lasting Peace & Respect.”

It is part of a series of projects undertaken in the last three years by the Community Association.

For this project they teamed up with Ballyoran Seniors who are based at Ashgrove Community Centre on the Garvaghy Road.

They went on conducted tours of the Boyne Visitors Centre and Drogheda and also to the East Belfast mission to learn of the Celtic origins of the area and also hear Linda Ervine outline her work in Turas, the Irish and Scotch Gaelic school, operating from the Mission’s headquarters at Skainos House on the Newtownards Road.

Also a visit to the Oireachtas in Leinster House in Dublin where they had an opportunity to see the Dail and Irish Senate in operation. They were hosted at this event by Senator Ian Marshall, a self-confessed Unionist from Markethill who gave an enlightened viewpoint in his role in the Senate.

Joe Garvey, Chairman of the Association said: “Many of us were taught little about Irish History or how our cultures came to be developed. Often people only learn a narrow aspect of history. The objective of this project, like previous ones, was to give a broader perspective on our backgrounds and how all the communities on this Island can live in harmony and respect each other’s traditions. It was also an opportunity for our two groups to work together for the benefit of our communities and we look forward to sustain the good relations that have been developed.”

The Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Margaret Tinsley, congratulated Richmount Rural Community Association and Ballyoran Seniors for coming together to develop better community relations.

She said: “Embarking on such projects can be challenging and Richmount Rural Community Association must be commended for its efforts in promoting peace and respect in our communities. I am aware that the Association has been leading the way in this field and it is also one of the few locations in the Borough to have a magnificent Peace monument.

“It is also noteworthy that the Association has taken its message of peace to work with other communities such as Glenravel in Co Antrim and across the border with Corduff/Raferagh in Co Monaghan.

“I know the work in peace and reconciliation still has some way to go and I am pleased that Richmount and Ballyoran are currently engaged in Peace IV project on reimaging and shared spaces as it has the desire for the Richmount Centre to be seen as a shared space and welcome to all in the community. I would just encourage you to keep up the good work.”

Frances Hayes, Chair of Ballyoran Seniors also commended the Association for taking the initiative.

She said: “At the outset we were not sure what we were letting ourselves in for but what we found was a warm welcoming group of people. We are now working together for the mutual benefits of both groups and we have enjoyed embracing the concept of learning about other cultures and the need for mutual respect”.