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Shared and safe? Good relations policy and attitudes’

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  • Political Science


Layout 1 5 Shared and safe? Good relations policy and attitudes Paula Devine For many, the signing of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement of 1998 is seen as the end of the conflict, although the Peace Process comprises a much longer and complex series of political and policy developments. However, as we have seen over the past 15 years, community - or good - relations policy development in Northern Ireland has had a sporadic history. The 2005 A Shared Future: Improving Relations in Northern Ireland1 framework made it clear that improving relationships between, and within, communities in Northern Ireland is a long term goal for Government2. However, political debate and wrangling meant that this framework was never endorsed. Following on from the restoration of devolution in 2007, and after much delay, the new policy framework A Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration3 was released for public consultation. Again, this sparked considerable debate and discussion at both political and community levels.4 At the end of these, however, there was widespread rejection of this consultation paper, with one major criticism being that it was seen as reinforcing the status quo of a divided society. Since then, we have seen the formulation of another working group and policy. The Together: Building a United Community (TBUC) Strategy was published in May 2013, and reflects the Northern Ireland Executive’s commitment to improving community relations.5 Four key priorities are highlighted within this strategy: shared community, safe community, cultural expression, and children and young people. For each of these priorities, there is a shared aim which will be implemented across a range of government departments, statutory agencies and community partners. However, despite being designed to facilitate a more united and shared society, one of the commitments within the ‘cultural expression’ priority is to contract out the more 6 Shared Space: A research journal on peace, conflict and c

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