Minister Coveney opens 2017 Reconciliation Networking Forum
News26 October 2017
Minister Coveney opens 2017 Reconciliation Networking Forum at Dublin Castle
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD, has today (Thursday) opened the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s annual Reconciliation Networking Forum at Dublin Castle.
The Forum brings together groups supported by the Department’s Reconciliation Fund as well as other organisations and individuals working on reconciliation in Northern Ireland and throughout the island of Ireland.
Minister Coveney, speaking at the Forum, acknowledged the current political challenges but said that those present “should not lose sight of all the work that has been done on reconciliation and all that has been achieved.” He added thanks to those present, saying: “The lives of people on this island and on our neighbouring island are immeasurably better as a result of the work you do day in and day out.”
Speaking about the journey of peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland, the Minister said:
“Decades of peacebuilding, countless quiet conversations, uncomfortable conversations, so many moments of leadership, generosity and grace, all tipped the balance twenty years ago from violence to peace and culminated in the Good Friday Agreement.
That Agreement, complex, inspiring, living document that it is, would not have happened by political leadership and political will alone. It took civil society, church leaders, business people, victims, survivors, and thousands upon thousands of ordinary citizens to make it clear that a different way of doing things was what was wanted.”
The Minister added “The words of the Good Friday Agreement are as fresh and resonant today as they were then. In the midst of current challenges, we should revisit that vision for Northern Ireland and for relations across these islands. We need to redouble our efforts to strive in every practical way towards reconciliation.”
This year’s Forum, the 12th, will focus on the theme of “Reconciliation: the reality, challenges and responses’, and some 180 delegates will discuss possible approaches for achieving a truly reconciled society. Those attending come from a diverse range of organisations and fields, including youth work, education, community, commemoration, and culture.
In 2017, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will provide €2.7 million in support of projects which will promote reconciliation and create better understanding between people and traditions both on the island of Ireland and also between Ireland and Britain.
26th October 2017
Notes to editors:
1. The Reconciliation Fund has been in existence since 1982 and was increased significantly following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. All parties to that Agreement undertook to “positively examine the case for enhanced financial assistance for the work of reconciliation.”
2. As a result, the Irish Government has provided increased support through the Reconciliation Fund since 1998. In the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, the Government committed to “support measures to promote reconciliation, including through continued annual provision of €2.7m in the Reconciliation Fund”.
3. The closing date for the next round of funding will be in spring 2018. Further information and application forms can be found at: http://www.dfa.ie/reconciliation
4. Minister Coveney's address to the Reconciliation Network Forum is available at www.dfa.ie/news-and-media/speeches/speeches-archive/2017/october/2017-reconciliation-network/