A Shared Future – Response Form by realtuff29

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									               ‘A Shared Future’ Response From

     The Northern Ireland Mixed Marriage Association


Q1 Do you agree that the overall aim for policy must be for a more shared and
pluralist society?

Our history has placed us where we are now, but our vision should take us where we want to
be. We would concur with the identified need for a shared but pluralist society and would
place an emphasis on a society which does not exclusively define itself as belonging to or
derived from either of the two traditional communities but which recognises the role, rights
and responsibilities of those people and organisations who integrate communities and who
belong to or derive from integrated communities.

Q2 What do you think should be the main policy aims and outcomes, which should
drive the new approach to promoting good relations in society?

The aims or outcomes indicated in 2.5 are to be supported. It is particularly welcome to see
a positive focus, emphasising the support and encouragement that needs to be given to
people in their various groupings and communities where barriers are being crossed and
where a sharing – based on mutual respect - occurs.

Segregation is one of the main problems stifling good relations: segregation of Housing,
Education, Churches, Sport and Social organisations.

Creating opportunities such as social events for individuals and communities to meet to
share their experiences, beliefs and ideas in a safe, non-threatening and ultimately enjoyable
way would help build good relations.

We would suggest that successful mixed-marriages are excellent models of good relations in
action.

Q3 What do you think ought to be the principles upon which a new approach to
promoting good relations in NI should be based?

The fundamental principles outlined in section 3 clearly indicate the breadth and depth of
the problems to be tacked. It also importantly indicates that Government should pay a key
role, alongside stakeholders from others such as communities and community organisations,
in moving forward. Leadership is crucial to achieving change and it is therefore essential
that support is provided to people and organisations who are in a position to establish
exemplary practice and to encourage others.

In terms of targeting, as outlined in 3.7 the positive support for good practice is welcomed,
as is the focus on the young and areas with a history of conflict or deprivation.

An acknowledgement of responsibility for contributing to the problem could be made by a
myriad of individuals and groups including politicians, Clergy, etc.




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Any new approach should be built upon tried and tested approaches from home and abroad.
The best of what is currently available should be taken and examples of ‘best practice’
should be implemented as widely as possible.

Q4 What action needs to be taken at local Government and community level to
underpin the development of good relations between and within communities?

The Equality Commission could recommend that monitoring forms should make allowance
for the fact that not everyone fits in to either a ‘Roman Catholic’ or a ‘Protestant’ box.
There should be an acknowledgement that a substantial number of people are either ‘both’
or ‘neither’ and the forms and allocation of jobs duly amended to reflect this.

District Council Members should undertake training in good relations.

Councils could develop projects for cross-community groups to work together for the
benefit of the whole community:
   • A Shared Newsletter
   • Job creation
   • Environmental projects
   • Neighbourhood watch schemes to take particular care of those mentioned in Section
        75
   • Opportunities for debate and for shared socialising.

Twinning or tripling with towns in developing countries may help to give another
perspective and offer a chance for people to co-operate on a worthwhile cause thereby
creating some shared community ‘self-esteem’.

They could provide financial incentives by providing annual awards for those groups most
effective in their efforts at developing good relations.

Good relations between and within communities best progresses through fostering
community based initiatives which develop community infrastructures and which also
focuses on the infrastructure between communities. This approach should not only continue
but should also focus more on relationships between communities.

It is important to recognise that communities are not exclusively defined in terms of
geography but are reflected in other aspects of society. There are many organisations in the
community and voluntary sector which support the shared future vision and which
contribute to its achievement but which address issues on a Northern Ireland wide basis and
are not exclusively district or locality focussed. These organisations can make an impact
locally but recognition of their wider contribution is also required.

Q5 What functions do you think should be carried out at regional level? Should these
functions be delivered within Government or by and independent body, such as the
CRC or a new statutory authority?

The role of the region should be to establish the aims, objectives and principles as outlined
in “A Shared Future” but must move beyond this to establishing an infrastructure and
climate in which these can be delivered.



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Of particular importance is the need to support and encourage good practice, to provide
funding for core community relations capacity and to raise awareness of community
matters.

This question as to where the functions are delivered is posed on the assumption of mutual
exclusivity and the premise of locating all the identified functions within one central
location. This issue is not sufficiently explored within the document and it is not made clear
why functions which relate primarily to Government (specifically the challenge function
and oversight of local councils) should not remain and be developed within Government
structures while remaining functions relating primarily to wider society be carried out by an
independent body. However, given a choice as outlined the preferred option would be for an
independent body to carry out the functions identified. This is primarily where the greater
expertise lies and also offers benefits of greater flexibility and innovation.

It would be important, however, that commitment to the Shared Future principles remains at
the heart of Government thinking and that funding programmes by Government reflect this
in order to ensure the ownership and engagement of key stakeholders.

Q6 What action do you think central Government should take to improve relations?

The document identifies a number of such actions. The need for long term Government
commitment is crucial as is the joined–up approach between Government Departments. Of
particular importance would be the linking together of the community development and
community relations’ concepts. This needs to take place outside of as well as within
Government.

The NIHE should be tasked with supplying reasonably priced accommodation in already
integrated housing areas for people in mixed marriages and relationships.

The demand for Integrated Education is unfulfilled and should be a priority for central
Government.

Government should ensure that groups modelling good practice should be afforded adequate
resources and support if they are to be used as exemplars of a ‘one community concept’.

There is a principle called the ‘Lund Principle’ which states that everything should be done
in common except that which conscience will not allow. Our society needs to be
encouraged to adopt this principle.

Q7 How do you think that a new strategy for improving relations ought to be
monitored?

The purpose of monitoring would be to highlight areas where there is need for further
development as well as to celebrate and promote good practice

Care should be taken not to burden under-resourced groups with too much bureaucracy,
leaving them little time or space for doing the job they are created to do.

One method of monitoring groups would be to organise random visits by an appointed
evaluator to offices/events. Acceptance of these random visits would be a condition of
funding.

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