Free Derry Museum funding boost

Exhibits, including flags flown from the top of Rossville Street flats in 1969, on display at the newly refurbished Free Derry Museum. DER0717GS025
Exhibits, including flags flown from the top of Rossville Street flats in 1969, on display at the newly refurbished Free Derry Museum. DER0717GS025

The recently redeveloped Museum of Free Derry is to get almost £80,000 in funding to develop a venue for schools and groups involved in conflict resolution.

The funding is being allocated after an under-spend was identified by the Executive Office for its Urban Villages Projects this year.

The £78,500 will be used to help fit out and furnish the upper floor of the museum, which is yet to be opened.

At its March meeting in Strabane on Tuesday, Derry and Strabane Council’s Business & Culture Committee agreed to a request made by the Executive Office for the Council to act as the funding route.

A Council officer said that there was no cost to ratepayers as the funding was coming directly from the Executive Office.

The Urban Villages Initiative falls within the N.I. Executive’s ‘Together Building a United Community’ strategy.

The initiative is designed to improve good relations outcomes and develop places where there has been a history of deprivation and community tension.

The Bogside and Fountain is one of five Urban Village areas, and an Executive Office team will be working with the Council to develop more projects over the next four years.

The fit-out work to the first floor of the museum includes adjustable screens to allow a classroom space to operate independently of the first floor office and research areas.

This will allow for the hosting of confidential discussions on good relations and conflict resolution with community organisations and other groups.

Benches for the first floor classroom space will be installed for school groups and community visitors involved in good relations programmes.

Shelving and storage will be fitted to the archive area to allow groups and individuals to research information on conflict resolution issues.

In addition, acoustic panelling and IT installations will enable the first floor and exhibition area to function independently without sound distortion.

The funding for the Free Derry Museum came about, the Committee was told, after Executive Office identified some minor capital under spend across the other Urban Village areas in Belfast, and had to be used up within two months.

Plans for a North West Cultural Hub project in the Urban Village area in Derry are expected to be delivered over the coming year.