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Christmas spirit breaks down interface barriers

Published: Tue, 4 Nov 2014
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A "bunting making" workshop for women from the Fountain and Bishop Street was held in The Playhouse for the Christmas market, which is being organised by IFI Peace Walls Project and funded by the Housing Executive’s Cohesion Unit. Pictured, from left, are Rachel Mullan-Carlin, IFI Peace Walls Project, Eddie Breslin, Housing Executive Cohesion advisor, Joan Robb and Donna Best.
Christmas spirit breaks down interface barriers
HISTORIC barriers between interface communities of the Fountain and Bishop Street in Derry-Londonderry will be broken down with the help of the Christmas spirit.
Derry-Londonderry is to host its own Christmas market as part of a unique project pioneered by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) backed Peace Walls Programme in the city and funded by us to the tune of almost £9,000.
Bishop Street Gate, once the centre for market trading in foodstuff and cattle, will once again ring out with the sounds of trading when it plays host to a two-day winter festival in December.
Thirty five residents from Bishop Street and the Fountain are currently taking part in a programme of arts and crafts at the Playhouse Theatre and will be selling their handmade wares at the Christmas market at Bishop Street gate on December 12th and 13th.
These will include jams, fudges, wreaths, jewellery and decorations.
There will also be a cross-community Christmas Carol Service in which local schools will participate.
Donna McCloskey, Peace Wall Development Worker at the Bogside & Brandywell Initiative, said:
“The purpose of these workshops is to promote good relations in the area whilst also increasing the employability of local people by training them in food hygiene and craft making as well as giving them a taste of a business environment.
“The winter festival offers the people of the city something different as it focuses on empowering and training local people. This is a local festival for the entire city to enjoy.
“The schools involvement will build on the intergenerational work that is taking place,” she added.
Our Cohesion Advisor, Eddie Breslin, said:
“This project embodies everything that our Cohesion work strives to do – to create a common vision and sense of belonging for everyone and to value and appreciate people from different backgrounds to promote positive relations.
“The work that has been carried out will bring together residents from across the interface in a positive, relationship enhancing experience that will showcase the range of activities they have been engaged with in the run-up to the Festival.”
Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said:
“The winter festival is a very welcome and innovative approach to building positive cross-community relationships. The removal of Peace Walls cannot take place without interventions that help to build the required levels of community support and confidence.
“The International Fund for Ireland’s Peace Walls Programme is about more than barrier removal. It provides communities with an opportunity to develop a vision of life without division and social conditions which are beneficial to all members of society.
“Positive community transformation will ultimately create the conditions for the removal of these structures.”