NW alienation drive provided a blueprint for £1m Orange Order fund
THE lead partner of a unique partnership aimed at tackling Protestant alienation in the North West believes it provided a blueprint for the Orange Order’s new £900k STRIPE Project (Stepping Towards Reconciliation in Positive Engagement).
Willie Lamrock, of Londonderry YMCA and lead partner of the Gateways to Protestant Participation (GPP) said the local scheme had provided a model of best practice for STRIPE.
Last week it was announced that the Orange Order received a grant of almost £900,000 from the European Union to help address the legacy of the Troubles in the Protestant community.
Seven full-time staff have been appointed to work on the project which is being financed until December 2014.
But in Londonderry and the wider North West Protestant alienation is already being addressed through the GPP programme that has seen thousands of pounds poured into local communities over the past few years.
“Obviously, the GPP programme was accepted as model of best practice,” said Mr Lamrock. “I firmly believe that it was an example that helped inform STRIPE.
“Months ago I had a conversation with Drew Nelson (Chairman of the Orange community Network) about the work of the GPP and I know he was working on STRIPE at that time.”
GPP was originally conceived as a response to grim levels of Protestant alientation in Londonderry, Strabane, Omagh and Donegal.
Launched over two years ago it was designed to “encourage the participation of the Protestant community by promoting a shared sense of belonging, addressing issues of marginalisation and tackling attitudes to racism and sectarianism.”
It was partly inspired by a 2005 report by St Columb’s Park House that highlighted the depth of Protestant alienation in Londonderry.
Such has been its success in the North West that the next phase of the programme will be open to community organisations and groups from all sections of the community.
“What we found with the GPP was that it worked so well that other organisations were interested,” explained Mr Lamrock. “Because of that phase II will be open to all sections of the community not just those from the Protestant community.”
GPP currently has a number of dedicated project outreach workers tasked with delivering the programme, acting as troubleshooters for local community organisations, which have traditionally encountered problems with red tape and in accessing fundamental entitlements.
GPP consists of six strands concentrating on capacity-building, programme development, leadership training, sustainable communities, discussion forums and networking.
The similarities with the STRIPE programme are striking and suggest GPP was a key template informing the new move.
At the STRIPE launch last week Drew Nelson said: “The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland believes there is an imbalance of weak community infrastructure, low confidence and low levels of participation within the Protestant community, particularly in interface and border areas in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“Grand Lodge also believes the Protestant community in interface and borders areas has suffered disproportionately during the Troubles.
“This project is about capacity building in the Protestant community and we greatly appreciate the support of the Special EU Programmes Body.
“An exciting part of the project will be identifying young leaders, building their capacity and developing their skills so that they can play a full role in shaping society.”
William McKeown, Grand Treasurer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said: “We believe an unparalleled opportunity now exists to enhance confidence within the Protestant community to such a level that it feels able to take part in meaningful cross-community and cross-border strategies building towards lasting peace and reconciliation.
“The support of the European Union’s Peace III Programme will make a huge difference to our members and the wider Protestant community.
“The STRIPE project aims to lead marginalised Protestant communities towards reconciliation through enabling them to understand their identity, evaluate their own experience during the Troubles and to understand how mistrust between the two main communities in Ireland has undermined good relations.
“It is envisaged that this will equip the Protestant community with the ability to engage with the wider community and to encourage it to re-engage as equal partners as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland moves forward.
“The ultimate aim is to allow the Protestant communities to become more comfortable in themselves and feel able to move forward with inter-community and cross border reconciliation.”
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Weather for Londonderry
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west