Cross-border trip to Isle of Doagh

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The Irish Famine and the different perspectives on Northern Ireland’s peace process were the topics covered on a recent cultural trip taken by social housing tenants from Derry and County Donegal.

The visit to Doagh Famine Village in the Inishowen Peninsula was organised as part of the Housing Associations Integration Project (HAIP).

It allowed the group, made up of all ages and from different backgrounds, to learn about the realities of 18th and 19th century Ireland, the famine and the nationalist and unionist perspectives on Northern Ireland’s journey towards peace.

The HAIP seeks to improve cross-community relations in social housing. It is a €1.1 million project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match funding has been provided by the Executive Office NI and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

The trip to Doagh Famine Village included both Apex and Clanmil tenants from seven neighbourhoods all involved in HAIP, and was the first cultural visit organised by Ann Herron, Apex’s new Good Relations Officer.

She said: “We had a brilliant day together learning about the history of the famine and the awful treatment of tenants by powerful landlords in Ireland.

“We also heard about the establishment of the Orange Order, the use of Republican safe houses, and took time to reflect on Northern Ireland’s road to peace. It was a pleasure to see tenants of all ages and backgrounds mixing together and enjoying the tour. It’s brilliant to see the positivity that HAIP brings to tenants’ lives; it’s truly inspirational.”

Diane Pollard, one of the tenants who attended, said “The trip to Doagh was brilliant. I learned so much and would definitely go again! We had beautiful weather, great company, lovely scenery and an excellent dinner afterwards.”

For more information about HAIP, contact Ann Herron on 028 71304800 or email ann.herron@apex.org.uk.