CO LOUTH’S reputation for embracing peace and reconciliation through overcoming challenges and adversity was showcased at an inspirational event where some 30 community groups were praised as a ‘shining example’ for all.
Under PEACE III’s Peace and Reconciliation Partnership, Cllr. Frank Maher, Chair of Louth County Development Board told delegates that the County had become a ‘beacon of light and hope’ for future generations and that Louth was now a place for everyone.
Speaking at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk, Councillor Maher congratulated a number of groups who had worked tirelessly to create a peaceful, inclusive and confident community, where fears and hurts have been reconciled and diverse cultures are appreciated:
“Peace III, a multi-million euro initiative launched here in 2009 and delivered by many local organisations is winning in its ability to challenge perceptions, overcome barriers and ensure a more-inclusive society for everyone.
Cllr. Frank Maher, speaking on behalf of the Louth Peace and Reconciliation Partnership added that the recently unveiled PEACE III, Phase Two would see many more opportunities emerge across four strategic priorities; Young people; Support for PEACE III Target groups; Building Diverse Communities; and Dialogue and Relationship building.
“The challenge now is to ensure this positive and life-transforming community work continues - PEACE III, Phase Two creates the right foundations for further confidence building measures and paves the road ahead with many visionary new projects that will I’m sure yield rewards for everyone.”
As the event’s centre-piece, Valerie Artherton, Louth PEACE III Programme Manager welcomed two award-winning local groups to the stage to highlight their own positive peace experiences.
Co Exist’s Peer Leaders Programme, a Dundalk organisation created to promote leadership, conflict awareness and interpersonal development particularly among young people, will under PEACE III Phase Two lead a group of young people to Bilbao in Spain in a few weeks time.
Kevin Moran, Director and Co-Founder of Co Exist said:
“We took a group of young people on an exchange programme to Krakow in Poland earlier in the programme in 2012. Now, we are planning to build on this by taking nine local young people to Bilbao, in the heart of the Basque region of Spain.”
Speaking at the Crowne Plaza event, 18-year-old Paul Finn, a Leaving Certificate student from Dundalk’s Coláiste Rís Secondary School, said the opportunity to go to Spain with Co Exist was an opportunity of a lifetime:
“Under Co Exist’s Peer Leaders Programme we’ve studied discrimination, conflict resolution, reconciliation, peace-building, culture and identity as well as leadership skills. We plan to tour the whole Basque region with our hosts and sit down and learn from each other and look together at how to remove racism and resolve conflict.
“The highlight of the trip for me will be a visit to the world-famous Gernika Peace Museum - an historical treasure house that highlights the culture of peace and I’m hoping to meet new friends and share many experiences there with our Spanish hosts.
“This is a dream chance and we owe our thanks to The PEACE III fund for opening such doorways of opportunity.”
The Ethnic Entrepreneur Programme - Louth County Enterprise Board
Sarah Mallon, from Louth County Enterprise Board is about to launch her Ethnic Entrepreneurs’ Programme - Louth’s answer to The Dragons’ Den - where mentoring support and business start-up advice will be offered to people who now call Louth home but are originally from many different cultures:
“We hope to commence the Ethnic Entrepreneur Programme in the near future,” Sarah says.