Junior Ministers praise groups for good relations work during pandemic

Date published: 15 September 2020

Junior Ministers Gordon Lyons and Declan Kearney have praised all those continuing to deliver good relations projects throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The Junior Ministers were speaking at an online Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Engagement Forum, held as part of Good Relations Week.

Around 200 stakeholders took part, highlighting the commitment and energy of the many groups and organisations working to keep good relations projects active and help the most vulnerable in our communities, despite the challenges of the ongoing health emergency.

Junior Minister Lyons said: “Although the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the usual programme roll out, we have seen a commitment and energy from groups across the five Urban Village areas to keep projects active.

“I am impressed by the vast range of activities still taking place in Northern Ireland across the breadth of the T:BUC programme, and I have no doubt that these contribute significantly to breaking down barriers and helping to bring communities together.

“Groups have reached across communities, working together to support the most vulnerable, including people not formerly connected to their service and programmes.

“I appreciate and recognise the vital work being done for good relations – for the future of our children, our families and our communities.”

Junior Minister Kearney added: “Many of our good relations projects have been impacted by the ongoing health emergency, but there has been an impressive partnership effort to make sure this crucial work continues. The Executive Office is working closely with community and voluntary groups, the Community Relations Council and district councils to identify new ways to deliver projects and to focus support on emerging priorities.

“It is really encouraging to see the great work that has been continuing during this very challenging time, and how everyone is working hard to adapt their programmes to reflect the new way of working.

“I am grateful to all the organisations and groups who have met this challenge head on. Their inventiveness, hard work and determination have ensured that projects to unite our communities and tackle problems such as sectarianism, prejudice and inequality have continued despite the pandemic.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Strategy reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.
  2. Organised by The Executive Office in conjunction with the Community Relations Council (CRC), the T:BUC Engagement Forum meeting brought together around 200 stakeholders from a wide variety of organisations across the good relations sector to hear about the progress being made through the programme.
  3. The forum heard how many projects in Urban Village areas have adapted their delivery models to enable them to continue their work during the pandemic. It also received an update on racial equality work within the Civil Service and the progress of initiatives being delivered as part of the District Councils Good Relations Programme.
  4. The forum, usually held three times each year, enables the community and voluntary sector, and a wider range of stakeholders, to consider the implementation of the T:BUC strategy; share progress and good practice; and to make practical and innovative recommendations to improve delivery. It also enables Government and associated bodies to update the sector on progress being made and to highlight key achievements.
  5. For media queries contact The Executive Office press office via email: press.office@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk
  6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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