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Mid Ulster

Successful £3.4m Mid Ulster PEACE IV Programme comes to a Close

ArtsEkta Draperstown: Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean and Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body celebrate the successes achieved by the Mid Ulster PEACE IV Programme at a shared space in Draperstown, one of the outputs of the programme over the last four years. Photo Credit: Jim Corr.

A new Shared Space at Draperstown was the venue recently for the official closure of the £3.4M PEACE IV funded Mid Ulster Local Authority Action Plan, following the successful delivery of programmes throughout the district over the last four years.

The Action Plan was funded through the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, and the programmes delivered focused around Children and Young People, Building Positive Relations and Shared Spaces and Services.

Match-funding for the Action Plan was provided by The Executive Office, Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development, Ireland.

First Minister Paul Givan said: “I would like to congratulate Mid Ulster District Council on the success in delivering its PEACE IV Programme. I commend all those involved in this wide range of initiatives, both as organisers and participants. Through the building of positive relations, this programme has supported children and young people, while creating and promoting shared spaces and services throughout Mid Ulster.  These improvements at an individual and community level are the foundations for a better future for us all. This is a great achievement which will leave a positive lasting impact on all those involved. It also makes an important contribution to the Executive’s vision for Northern Ireland as a place which is inclusive, shared and safe.”

The deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill said: “I am delighted that The Executive Office has been able to support this transformative PEACE IV programme in my own constituency. The Mid Ulster Local Authority Action Plan has brought hundreds of children and young people from different traditions and backgrounds together, helping them to form positive and effective relationships.  And it has also helped to create shared spaces and build good relations that will support meaningful integration in years to come. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the programme and thank them for their incredible efforts towards ending division and promoting community cohesion. Initiatives such as this are crucial in helping our entire society move forward and become an inclusive, united community where everyone is treated equally.”

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, commented: “I want to congratulate Mid Ulster District Council on their achievements under their EU PEACE IV funded Local Authority Action Plan. 

“I am delighted that my Department was able to provide match funding and support for the delivery of this important plan which has delivered beneficial projects and six shared spaces for all those living in the area, which I am sure will serve as a tangible memory of your hard work and dedication. The accomplishments and goals achieved as part of this Action Plan would not have been possible without the involvement of all the participants. I look forward to seeing your great achievements built on under the new PEACE Plus programme which will provide substantial investment in the region over the coming years”.

Speaking at the event, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean said: “The PEACE IV funded Local Authority Plan delivered in our district has hugely benefited all communities, successfully delivering positive relations within and across district boundaries. In particular, it has contributed to the lives of over 1,130 children and young people, who participated in a range of projects focusing on cultural diversity, good relations and sports engagement.

“The legacy of the PEACE IV programme is perhaps most visible in the development of six shared sites that encourage use by diverse communities, and play a vital role in the revitalisation and ongoing vibrancy of our towns and villages. We are extremely grateful to our funders for supporting such a successful programme.”

Members of ArtsEkta contributed to the celebrations held to mark the close of the Mid Ulster PEACE IV Programme. Photo Credit: Jim Corr.

Other projects funded under the action plan were instrumental in building positive relations, including both small grants delivered by a range of local community groups, and council led initiatives delivering Cross Border engagement. This activity has been successful in re-affirming peace and reconciliation across the border through shared heritage of the Clans and shared literature of our Poet Laureates, Yeats and Heaney.

The Shared Spaces and Services strand of the programme has created six shared sites across Mid Ulster, including Aughnacloy, Castledawson, Donaghmore, Draperstown, Moneymore and Moy. A further three grants were funded under this theme to promote shared space, peace and reconciliation. Most recently, a newly funded programme aimed to develop an all year round events space has been launched.

Discussing the significance of Mid Ulster’s Action Plan, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “Unfortunately, despite many years of positive progress, we still continue to experience high levels of sectarianism and racism, with many communities remaining segregated, and limited opportunities for people to engage with each other.

The PEACE IV-funded Local Authority Action Plans, across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland provide opportunities to change this, and have supported many thousands of people to take courageous steps forward to create a more cohesive and forward-thinking society. These Action Plans have helped overcome barriers to cross-community engagement and built capacity for many different groups to engage in peace and reconciliation activities. I congratulate the Council on their dedication to delivering this Action Plan, particularly given all of the many difficulties resulting from COVID-19,” she continued. 

Mid Ulster

Mid Ulster Gift Card Launched Ahead Of Key Christmas Trading Period

A new gift card, designed to ‘lock-in local’ for the key Christmas trading period has been launched by Mid Ulster District Council.

The Mid Ulster Gift Card, valid in over 100 independent and national businesses right across the region, is intended to encourage customers to keep it local when shopping, eating out or enjoying their leisure time, and to boost the businesses in their high streets and main streets at the same time.

The new Mid Ulster Gift card is a ‘win-win’ for customers and businesses, according to Chair of the Council, Councillor Paul McLean:

“Our towns and villages have an unrivalled mix of quality independent retailers, as well as high street names, together with great cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels, and not forgetting the leisure and cultural venues where the card is also accepted.

“That means customers using the gift card have extensive choice and participating businesses help to ensure that we have greater opportunities to lock in spend to the local economy.

“Shopping local to support local companies has never been more important, as our businesses, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, continue to respond to the challenges of the pandemic.

“Our 100% investment in this project is another strand of our economic recovery plan to ensure we can all continue to enjoy strong, stable and vibrant towns and villages at the heart of our local communities”.

Local businesswoman Sammy-jo Dickson who runs 14th Avenue, a ladies and men’s clothing store in Dungannon, was among the first to sign up to the gift card scheme:

“The Mid Ulster gift card is a great incentive to support your local traders and shop local. This gift card will offer customers the freedom to choose from a great selection of shops and businesses throughout the Mid Ulster area”.

Mid Ulster Gift Cards are available to collect free of charge from Ranfurly House, Dungannon, The Burnavon, Cookstown and The Bridewell in Magherafelt. Customers then upload the amount they wish to add to the card by visiting www.midulstergiftcard.com.

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Mid Ulster

£200K Funding To Improve Access To Leisure And Cultural Facilities

Close to £200K is to be invested in improving access to Mid Ulster District Council’s leisure and cultural facilities.

A total of 11 projects have been allocated funding under the Department for Communities (DfC) Access and Inclusion Capital Programme, which is designed to improve access to and participation in arts and cultural activity and leisure and outdoor recreational activity by people with disabilities.

All 7 of the Council’s leisure and sports centres will have new permanent and mobile ‘hearing loop systems’ installed, with new automatic and power-assisted doors in multiple locations across 4 leisure and recreation sites, including Tobermore Golf Centre, set to improve accessibility for customers yet further.

Greenvale Leisure Centre will have a Pool Pod system installed, giving unrestricted access to both the main and learner pools and ensuring customers requiring hoist access no longer have to pre-book or wait at the poolside.

The Burnavon theatre in Cookstown will use its funding to update its support hearing system and to enhance areas used for workshops and events with adjustable lighting and camera which will be of particular benefit to those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sight problems and restricted movement.

The Bridewell Visitor Information Centre will also have existing heavy doors replaced with an accessible system, as well as new permanent and portable ‘hearing loop’ systems.

Outdoors, the funding will bring 10 new accessible picnic tables to picnic areas, parks and open spaces and inclusive play will be improved at the Fairhill play area in Cookstown with the installation of a new wheelchair swing.

Chair of the Council’s Development Committee, Councillor Dominic Molloy, welcomed the funding:

“If we truly want to see all of our residents being able to avail of opportunities to be physically active or to engage in arts and cultural activities and events, then projects like these are crucial to opening up access and building inclusivity.

“I look forward to seeing work starting to create more equitable and inclusive access to the Council’s facilities across Mid Ulster”.

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey said:

“My Department’s Access and Inclusion Programme is aimed at promoting a more inclusive society by improving accessibility at arts, cultural and active recreation venues for people with disabilities who often have limited opportunities to participate in activities that many of us take for granted.

“The improvements that are being taken forward by Mid Ulster District Council will help to open up these facilities to those with disabilities, providing them with the opportunity to increase their participation at a range of venues.”

All 11 projects are expected to be completed by 31 March 2022.

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