EU Commissioner ‘deeply impressed’ by Derry projects

Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons

Three local EU-funded projects have been commended by the EU Commissioner for Regional Development Policy, Johannes Hahn, during his recent visit to the city.

The three projects in question were praised for helping to promote peace and cross-border cooperation across Northern Ireland and Ireland. Supported by the European Regional Development fund, the three project organisations, including Headliners (UK), the Playhouse ‘Theatre of Witness’ Programme and Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) were each given the opportunity to brief the Commissioner on the impact that they are having within the local community.

Commenting on the projects, Commissioner Hahn said: “I was deeply impressed by all three projects. The passion of the young people from Headliners, and the courage of the participants in Theatre of Witness showed how important this kind of work can be in helping all generations to come to terms with the past, while CAWT shows the new possibilities opening up for a much better future.”

Derry based Headliners, described how it is encouraging greater levels of cross-community dialogue through its ‘Different Voices’ learning through journalism initiative. Funded through the EU’s PEACE III Programme the project equips young people, aged 16 and over, with the skills needed to objectively discuss issues of cultural and religious identity.

Speaking about the work of the project, project co-ordinator Malachy Kyle, said: “At Headliners we believe that young people have the capacity to become beacons of trust and tolerance. Through our project we help them to challenge behaviours and attitudes, first in themselves and then in the wider community”

Representatives from the Playhouse theatre in Derry, involved in the delivery of the PEACE III funded ‘Theatre of Witness’ programme, also met with Commissioner Hahn.

Founded by American director Teya Sepinuck, ‘Theatre of Witness’ is a form of performance, which gives voice to people whose stories are unheard by wider society.

Speaking about the ‘Theatre of Witness’ project Pauline Ross, Director and Founder of the Playhouse Community Arts Centre, said: “In 2009 we created ‘We Carried Your Secrets’, working with Fathers who fought on the frontlines during the conflict. The performance dealt with the younger generation and the questions they had following this legacy. This was followed in 2010 by ‘I Once Knew A Girl’ which articulates the unheard stories of women affected by the many years of violence here.”

Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) was the third project to meet with Commissioner Hahn. Senior staff from the organisation provided details on the twelve distinct cross border health and social care services underway through CAWT’s ‘Putting patient, Clients and Families First’ initiative, which has received £24m from the EU’s INTERREGA IVA Programme.

Commenting on the meeting with the EU Commissioner, CAWT’s Director General, Tom Daly said: “The meeting was an excellent opportunity to highlight the considerable amount of cross border work underway by the health services and to demonstrate the practical difference which EU funding is making to peoples’ lives.

“Over 7,000 people in total have benefitted from cross border health and social care services under our current work programme which runs until 2013.”