A successful PEACE IV funded community leadership project has concluded after involving sixty-nine people across ten community hubs. The project was run by Donegal ETB in partnership with Donegal Local Development CLG and Inishowen Development Partnership. It was supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme and managed for the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) by Donegal County Council.
At a closing event on Friday last, attendees heard how the Community Leadership project sought to build the capacity of community leaders and potential community leaders in areas that have suffered from the legacy of the Troubles, having high unemployment, early school leaving and where there is a risk of dissident activity, as well as a high level of social deprivation.
Participants availed of training in leadership skills; ethical and power dimensions within groups; social analysis concepts including power, discrimination, prejudice, racism, multiculturalism, sectarianism, interculturalism, globalisation; and actions needed to promote change at both community and national level.
Speaking at the closing event, Donegal PEACE IV Partnership Chairperson Cllr Paul Canning said, “I am delighted to celebrate the closing event of Community Leadership, which received €162,000 funding through the Building Positive Relations theme of the Donegal PEACE IV Action Plan.
The programme set up a network of voluntary and statutory organisations across the county. This resulted in the development of strong working relationships that supported promotion and delivery of the project. The network is now established and is a lasting legacy of the project. The membership will continue to support the educational and developmental needs of the community and to build positive relations.”
Donegal ETB Director of Further Education and Training Cróna Gallagher noted, “The project provided a space where participants from different backgrounds and beliefs, through skilful facilitation, were enabled to share and explore experiences on issues of identity, prejudice, sectarianism and stereotyping.”
The participants experience was highlighted by course facilitator Diane Greer: “The classes were a fertile ground for exploring many varied topics and areas as the learners ranged experience and knowledge was integrated into tuition. Due to the solid foundation and a comprehensive ‘group contract’ in place we were able to hold open discussions and debates on topics that were contentious.”
One of the participants, in commenting on the working with groups module, highlighted how it gave them a better understanding of leadership roles and how it works within the dynamics of the group.
Shauna McClenaghan, Joint CEO, Inishowen Development Partnership said, “IDP was delighted to partner with Donegal ETB and DLDC in the PEACE IV Community Leadership Programme funded through Donegal County Council’s PEACE IV Partnership and the SEUPB. This offered an opportunity for collaboration with stakeholders in the community sector to become involved in sector specific accredited programmes while also developing peer support and exploring any barriers within our communities caused by the conflict.”
DLDC CEO, Padraic Fingleton noted that, “Donegal Local Development CLG has been delighted to be part of this Community Leadership project which recognises the wonderful work being carried out by volunteers across the county and which has supported them in learning new skills in their work as leaders in their communities.”
The project was funded under priority 1 of the PEACE IV programme, promoting peace and reconciliation and under action 4.1 of the local authority peace plan which focused on the promotion of positive relations at a local and regional level, characterised by respect and where cultural diversity is celebrated and people can live, learn and socialise together, free from prejudice, hate and intolerance.
Match-funding was provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.