£9m from peace fund 'will boost relations between divided communities of Belfast'

Almost £9 million of peace funding will help build better relations between Belfast's divided communities, the city's Lord Mayor has said.

The money, from the European Union's Peace IV programme, will be used for projects to improve the lives of children and young people as well as to build shared spaces.

Nuala McAllister said: "Issues of trust, prejudice and intolerance are still all too common for many of us. This funding will help us in transforming our capital to a city of shared space where all communities have a sense of belonging."

Tara Connolly of Belfast Youth Forum and Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister at the launch of the Peace IV Programme. (Belfast City Council/PA)

A total of £8.79 million has been allocated from the European Union's Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

It will be distributed by Belfast City Council.

A significant sum, £1.7 million, will be spent on projects that specifically target young people.

These include the use of technology to challenge attitudes at after-schools clubs, Easter and summer camps as well as money to deliver exchange visits, environmental clean-ups and civic leadership programmes.

A further £5 million has been earmarked for improving community relations at a west Belfast interface while £2 million will go towards arts and heritage projects that explore peace, culture and diversity.

Gina McIntyre, chief executive of the SEUPB said: "Previous peace funding facilitated some truly inspirational projects that have made a real and meaningful difference, and I encourage everyone to participate in the activities and opportunities this funding stream will deliver.

"Despite significant progress, however, there remains a need to improve cross-community relations, and further integrate divided communities. The funding that has been provided under Peace IV will help to achieve this and promote positive relations, creating a community where people can live and socialise together, free from prejudice and intolerance."