Communities resolve differences for brighter future

Innovative approach to conflict resolution sees cross-community activists work together in an effort to bring a complete end to violence in Belfast as part of a city-wide partnership for lasting peace.

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Locals determined to end conflict in Belfast Locals determined to end conflict in Belfast

“BCRC believe relationship and trust-building processes provide the necessary building blocks to forge long-term, sustainable intercommunity partnerships at grass roots level.”
Joe Marley, BCRC project manager

The Belfast Conflict Resolution Consortium (BCRC), set up in April 2007, aims to assist in shaping policies that will make a real difference in this European capital where sporadic outbursts of violence continue to occur.

Activists unite

Together loyalist, republican and community activists have been working side by side to contain and prevent violent outbreaks and potentially violent situations in certain parts of Belfast, known as ‘interface areas’. This term is used to describe the intersection between segregated Protestant and Catholic residential areas.

By fostering tentative contact between activists, the BCRC is helping to create effective working relationships and developing a cross-community steering group and a citywide reponse network. The consortium relies on partners throughout Belfast, including its partner organisations Charter NI, EPIC, the Falls Community Council and Intercomm.

The work of the BCRC is carried out by a project manager and a team of 7 staff, including 5 community development officers, a secretarial administrator and a financial administrator. The project is given operational direction by its lead agency, the Falls Community Council, and the other three partner organisations Charter NI, EPIC and Intercomm. Strategic direction is given by its steering group which is representative of Belfast’s different political and religious communities.

Towards lasting peace

Through the creation and expansion of cross-community strategic alliances, the BCRC provides an integrated response to tension in interface areas. This is helping to prevent outbreaks as well as to enhance conflict resolution skills.

Local leadership is gaining strength, democratic involvement is on the rise and reconciliation efforts are becoming more fruitful as the BCRC continues to work on the issues identified by interface communities across Belfast.

The plan is to give priority to these issues and to work jointly on problem solving. Moving from a situation in which crisis management has been the norm to one in which strategic decisions are debated and then taken is the journey the BCRC has embarked upon.

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