Derry community group Foyle Interface Forum have been named Justice Champions.
The Forum were awarded the title by Justice Minister, David Forde, at the inaugural ‘Justice in the Community Awards’ ceremony at Government Buildings.
The Foyle Forum saw off competition from a total of 58 nominees to be named one of three ‘Justice Champions.’ Five ‘highly commended’ awards were also presented.
The Forum has developed initiatives to reduce the number of sectarian incidents in interface areas as well as offering diversionary schemes for young people at risk of becoming involved in crime.
David Ford said of their work: “The forum was established with an aim of reducing sectarian crime at interface areas and the effective engagement between all forum members.
“This award acknowledges their impact in reducing the number of sectarian incidents and the initiative has demonstrated the benefits of working in partnership with a wide range of members and agencies.
“The Forum has used resources to target those most at risk of offending, providing a safer community for the people of Derry and their tireless efforts are rightly recognised.”
Foyle Interface Forum representative Declan McLaughlin said: “This award is in recognition of the work that is carried out across the city by a large group of people, statutory bodies and community organisations.
“The issues around the interface are ongoing and just don’t go away. It takes a lot of work on many levels to identify issues and deal with them before they become a major problem.
“This group is the forum in which these issues are looked at, and solutions delivered. I feel, when you look at the reduction of trouble at the interface and the marching season it’s proof that the work is having an affect.
“It’s about saving this community from the yearly destruction that goes on around the interface and the problems that the people who live here have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s maybe an over used phrase but it’s how joined up thinking is supposed to work. Solutions are not always universal but partnership is the best and most effective way of dealing with these problems.”