Communities in Transition – Background

The Fresh Start agreement was published in November 2015 and sets out the Executive’s commitment to tackling residual paramilitary activity and associated criminality. As part of the commitment to Fresh Start, an independent Three Person Panel was set up to report to the Executive with recommendations for a strategy for disbanding paramilitary groups.

The Panel’s report was published in June 2016 and subsequently the Executive responded to the report by publishing the Action Plan for Tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality and Organised Crime.

The Executive Action Plan sets out 43 actions under four key delivery approaches –

  1. Long term prevention
  2. Building capacity to support transition
  3. Strategies and powers to tackle criminality
  4. Building confidence in the justice system

The Executive Office (TEO) is responsible for Action B4 of the Executive Action Plan which falls under section B – Building capacity to support transition.

Action B4 states that – “The Executive should establish a fund to support ambitious initiatives aimed at building capacity in communities in transition, including through developing partnerships across civil society and across community divisions”

Action B4 is referred to as the Communities in Transition Project.

More information on the wider Executive Programme for Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime can be accessed on the Northern Ireland Executive website.

What is the Project about?

The Communities in Transition (CIT) Project aims to support eight geographic areas where there has been a history of paramilitary activity and coercive control to transition into communities where paramilitary activity no longer plays a role. This project is designed to support ambitious initiatives that will build the capacity of individuals and groups to affect positive change for themselves and their communities.

Who is delivering the project?

TEO procured a strategic partner – a consortium led by Co-operation Ireland and comprising specialist academic experts from the Mitchell Institute at Queen’s University Belfast, Incore at Ulster University and the Institute of Conflict Research – to support the Department in delivering the Communities in Transition Project.

What are the areas we are working in?

In December 2016, the Tackling Paramilitarism Programme Board commissioned a short independent research project aimed at providing an evidence base to inform decisions on local areas for focused intervention, in support of the Executive’s Action Plan for Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime. The research, conducted in January 2017,  encompassed a range of measuring techniques, including making use of official statistics, reviewing relevant academic literature and holding discussions with stakeholders.

The eight areas agreed to be the focus for targeted support to transition through Action B4 were identified as those under most influence and coercive control by paramilitary structures and organisations and impacted most by associated criminality at that time.

  • North Down (Kilcooley & Rathgill)
  • West Belfast (Lower Falls, Twinbrook, Poleglass, Upper Springfield, Turf Lodge and Ballymurphy)
  • East Belfast (The Mount and Ballymacarrett)
  • Shankill
  • Derry/Londonderry (Brandywell and Creggan)
  • Carrickfergus and Larne (Antiville and Kilwaughter in Larne, Northland and Castlemara in Carrickfergus)
  • North Belfast (New Lodge and Ardoyne)
  • Lurgan (Drumgask and Kilwilkie)

The research report setting out the rationale for area selection can be accessed on the Department of Justice website.

What work has been done to date?

The Project is split into 2 phases and to date we have completed Phase 1. This phase was an initial consultation period with local communities and key stakeholders in each of the areas, which was undertaken by independent fieldworkers appointed by the CIT Consortium.

Summary Reports detailing the findings of this phase and further explanation around the project are available on the Co-operation Ireland website.

Next steps

A series of Information Events were held within each of the eight areas throughout November 2018, providing the opportunity to launch the fieldwork reports, relay the findings from Phase 1 and set out next steps for the project, which will include a Participatory Design Process (PDP) in each of the eight areas over the coming months.

Back to top