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Local groups and organisations in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area contributed to Good Relations Week showcasing peace building and cultural diversity.

Good Relations Week 2021 was a cross community and multi-cultural showcase of ‘Brighter Days Ahead’.  As part of the Community Relations Council’s annual celebration of peace building and cultural diversity work, the week also championed the voices, needs and challenges of young people across the region and tackled issues such as sectarianism, racism and other forms of identity hatred.  

Local groups and organisations in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council helped deliver a programme of 320 face-to-face and virtual events as well as online content. They shone a light on the region’s cultural diversity and as well offering insights into mental health, isolation, education, faith, the pandemic, the environment, and dealing with the continuing impact of our past.

This year the calendar of events featured everything from Derry~Londonderry music artist, ROE, penning a track that illustrated her interpretation of the ‘Brighter Days Ahead’ theme, to an interactive storytelling session at which women reflected on the challenges of daily life, as well as their hopes and aspirations for the future.  The week also included a multi-disciplinary virtual arts exhibition comprising of images, poetry, words, music, and discussion inspired by peace, health and the pandemic.  It also had a video profile of young photographer, Sarah Little, and her creative approach to highlighting climate change.  Sarah is one of the 21 Artists for the 21st Century, an initiative led by the Northern Ireland Office.

Slieve Gullion District Electoral Area (DEA) and South Armagh Women’s Rural Network hosted an event in Killeavy Castle. Women from local communities took part in a presentation and brief discussion about their experiences of living in a border area.

Sean O’ Baoill, from Joint Ventures, led the discussions providing a historical backdrop of the area, highlighting the key roles women have undertaken in helping to build and sustain positive relationships in their communities. 

Participants took part in open discussions, sharing their own stories of living in a border county, such as the challenges faced, the contributions made, and the ways they continue to build positive and sustainable relationships with other communities. 

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Cathy Mason, said "I am delighted to learn of the opportunities presented by this Good Relations Week event and learn of the many contributions women have made in building positive relationships in their community."

The highly impactful and imaginative weeklong programme of events also included a play that explored the fascinating links between Irish and Arabic culture, language and experience and the unveiling of a Covid quilt, created across the community divide.

Martin McDonald MBE, Chair of the Community Relations Council, said “Good Relations Week 2021 has been an overwhelming success and local groups and organisations across the region have gone above and beyond to showcase ‘Brighter Days Ahead’ while championing the voices, needs and challenges of young people across the region.  Good Relations Week has shone a light on the great work undertaken our young people here and highlighted some of the issues that impact them including sectarianism, racism, cultural diversity, mental health, isolation, education and the environment. Good Relations Week 2021 gave our young people a platform.  I hope their voices were heard and I hope that we can continue to act as a catalyst for meaningful change as we strive for a shared future for everyone.” 

Jacqueline Irwin, Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council said “Thanks to all the groups and organisations in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area who contributed to a brilliant week by pulling together such an impactful and entertaining programme as we celebrated the wide range of projects and initiatives that go on all year round in our local communities.  We were so impressed that even though we are still dealing with the impact of the pandemic, this year’s programme had over 320 events and online content, making it our largest ever cross community and multi-cultural showcase of good relations work.  This year we focused on the contribution of young people, and we are grateful to all those who helped developed the theme, imagery, and the programme content. We hope Good Relations Week 2021 offered everyone an opportunity to celebrate our diversity, reflect on the challenges we face today, and appreciate how important it is that we embrace its theme of “Brighter Days Ahead” by working together positively and for the good of all as we move into the future”.

Good Relations Week is supported by The Executive Office and contributes to delivering the Together: Building a United Community Strategy. The Community Relations Council is supported in co-ordinating the week by a steering committee comprising Department for Communities, Department of Justice, Education Authority, Libraries NI, Cathedral Quarter Trust and The Nerve Centre. 

For more information on the Good Relations Week visit WWW.GOODRELATIONSWEEK.COM

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