The Reconciliation through the Riverine Project had its official launch yesterday at an event jointly hosted by Strabane District Council, Donegal County Council and the Riverine Forum in the Alley Theatre, Strabane.
The project, which is funded by the International Fund for Ireland, seeks to address the impact of the conflict on the Lifford/Strabane area and their surrounding towns and villages by regenerating the border riverside area.
Announcing the launch of the project Paddy Harte said the Reconciliation through the Riverine Project will provide opportunities to develop cross community and cross border relationships in the Strabane Lifford and wider hinterland areas through a dedicated programme of reconciliation.
“The project will also seek to consolidate the work undertaken over the last 15 years in terms of building peace and reconciliation and leave a lasting legacy through the regeneration of the border riverside area by creating an iconic shared space for all.”
Funding of one million euro was announced as part of the project and will be used to deliver a youth participation and a community participation programme.
This is integral to the overall development of the shared space to ensure ownership of the space and to strengthen relationships as a means to addressing the legacy of the conflict and providing opportunities to work together so as to embrace the many cultures and traditions of the area.
Speaking at the launch, Cllr. Noel McBride, Mayor of Donegal stated that this project is a great example of cross border collaboration both at council and community level.
He paid tribute to the voluntary members of the Riverine Forum who have been instrumental in ensuring that funding is secured for this type of work. He stated that without their commitment and engagement, we would not have been in a position to secure this funding.
Cllr. Karina Carlin of Strabane District Council reiterated these comments and acknowledged the role of the International Fund for Ireland in terms of investing not only in this project but in the very many projects that they have supported in the Strabane Lifford area over the last 20 years. She stated that “the International Fund for Ireland has been a great friend to this area for many years, taking a risk for peace when it was a much more difficult thing to do and through this investment we are now in a place where it is possible to achieve greater reconciliation through a unique, innovative and iconic project such as the Riverine.”
Speaking on behalf of the International Fund for Ireland, Winston Patterson stated, “This major project to develop a shared space for the people of Strabane and Lifford, on a site that has been for so long associated with division, will be a lasting legacy to the peace process and, in a way, a tribute to all those who have worked over the years to bring us to this stage. The Fund is delighted therefore to be involved in the project and to be providing €1 million in funding for strands two and three of the project.”
Patricia Hegarty, Co-chair of the Riverine Forum, which was set up to provide a platform to facilitate contact, dialogue and reconciliation amongst the diverse range of communities that live in this area, welcomed the launch of this project. She stated that this project is a culmination of years of work both at Council and community level and she encouraged any community or youth group interested in becoming involved in the project or with any ideas that the project can help support, to contact the project team at their office in Lifford at 00 353 74 91 72212.