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Peace cash to pay for mediation in bid to end community tensions in Newtown

'Peace Garden' for Newry City Centre included among funding proposals

A special facilitator could be employed to help ease community tensions in Newtownhamilton.

There have been ongoing difficulties within the border community in recent times.

Most recently, a bin lorry had to withdraw from the area amid threats to members of staff employed by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

There have also been widely reported incidents and conflicts within the local community.

The situation has come to such a stage now that consideration is being given to allocating European Peace IV funding to try and make a change for the better.

Through the work of the Peace IV Partnership – which was appointed in September 2016 and consists of councillors and social partners – it is proposed spending £75,800 on a range of initiatives aimed at improving relations across the entire district.

And one of these – under the umbrella of ‘Addressing Community Tensions’ – centres on Newtownhamilton and the very real issues there.

It has been proposed that the partnership would “procure and appoint a facilitator”.

And it would be their role to carry out initial engagement and “mediation with the communities in the Newtownhamilton area”.

The recommendation will go to the active and healthy communities committee when it meets on Monday, June 18, for approval.

It has been proposed that £5,000 be allocated to addressing the community tensions in Newtown.

And a similar amount, meanwhile, has also been recommended to be earmarked for the creation of a ‘Peace Garden’ in Newry City Centre.

There would be a further £5,000 for ‘capacity building’ for a project with youth organisations in Newcastle, and £3,000 – under ‘Shared History and Culture’ – for a programme of events, to be held between July and November, under the title of ‘Killyleagh Remembers The Great War’.

Money is also earmarked for ethnic minority cultural and integration activities in the district.

The lion’s share will go to cross-community festivals – Merchants Festival in Newry and SOMA in Castlewellan – with allocations of £26,400 each.

The carve-up of cash – 85% of which comes from the EU and the remainder from the British and Irish Governments – will be considered for approval on Monday, before going to the full council sitting for final consent.

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