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Interface Group announces Peace Building Strategy

by NEIL GREENLEES

Jean Brown, Suffolk Lenadoon Interface Group Chairperson and Renee Crawford, Lenadoon Community Forum with members of Upper Falls Protestant Boys Flute Band and Gleann Chollain Irish Pipe Band who played together at the strategy launch.

Jean Brown, Suffolk Lenadoon Interface Group Chairperson and Renee Crawford, Lenadoon Community Forum with members of Upper Falls Protestant Boys Flute Band and Gleann Chollain Irish Pipe Band who played together at the strategy launch.

A STRATEGY has been launched to transform the interface between the loyalist Suffolk Estate and the nationalist Lenadoon area into a genuinely shared space.

The five year project drawn up by the Suffolk Lenadoon Interface Group (SLIG) was unveiled last week as the results of a major survey in the area showed 91% of all respondents were supportive of peacebuilding work between the two communities.

The scheme entitled 'Interface and Beyond' focuses on six key areas for peacebuilding including: Creating shared minds and changing attitudes; developing shared spaces; developing shared interests; developing shared knowledge, understanding and advocacy; undertaking shared actions and providing opportunities for shared learning and development through national and international networking.

The launch took place at the Group's award winning shared facilities on Stewartstown Road. Symbolically, both Upper Falls Protestant Boys Flute Band and Gleann Chollain Irish Pipe Band provided music at the event.

SLIG Group Chairperson Jean Brown said the organisation had come a long way In the 12 years since the first discussions between Suffolk and Lenadoon's Community Fora took place.

She pointed out the launch was taking place in a building shared by both communities which had brought jobs, childcare and retail services into the area, and which had changed the physical appearance of the interface beyond all recognition.

"However, today marks a new phase in the work of Suffolk Lenadoon Interface Group, and we hope in the lives of our communities," she continued.

" Our new five year strategy is about building a shared and better future that will provide long term sustain-ability for the Suffolk and Lenadoon area and a better quality of life for all who live here especially our young children.

"We aim to support the development of shared projects such as sports, health, youth, culture, childcare and education while also sharing our experiences of the recent past with others who may benefit.

"While we acknowledge the progress we have made SLIG is not complacent and recognise that a number of challenges remain which we are committed to overcoming for the benefit of all who live within the Suffolk and Lenadoon communities."

Mrs. Brown said ultimately the strategy, rooted in the learnings of recent years, aimed to move conflict areas forward and involve people at all levels within the Suffolk Lenadoon communities and wider society.

"We hope to be able to share our experiences, good and bad, with the many other groups which, like us, are still working to ease tensions and promote sharing in interface areas in Northern Ireland," she concluded.

neil.greenlees@jpress.co.uk

Ulster Star
19/09/2008