Draft Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration issued for consultation
OFMdFM have also indicated that they are amenable to facilitating local meetings upon request.
While establishing the context the document notes that the latest PSNI Statistical Report on Hate Incidents and Crimes shows that during 2009/10 the number of sectarian incidents increased by 245 (an increase of 15.4%) and racist incidents by 48 (an increase of 4.8%) in comparison to 2008/09.
Throughout the document there are references to creating a culture of rights, responsibility and respect. Officials from OFMdFM are keen to emphasise that this document is designed to compliment and not replace existing equality legislation.
Reflecting the broad nature of the subject matter the document establishes the activities, responsibilities and mechanisms across a broad swath of society.
Areas of Interest
Some of the key themes of the CSI document are: developing shared space, crises intervention, young people, interfaces, reducing segregation, expression of cultural identity, racial equality, hate crime, creating secure communities.
A number of areas requiring action from the Executive have been identified within the categories of short, medium and long term eg: Developing Shared Space, improving the relationship between young people and the community and tackling division in interface areas.
Work will continue in the relevant Government bodies on; the Cross Sectoral Taskforce on Traveller Education, the DEL led Subgroup of the Racial Equality Forum, the Anti-Racist Workplace Week initiative, the Integrated Transport Plans and the Unite Against Hate, multi-agency campaign.
OFMdFM will lead in the development of a cross-cutting programme with Departments, agencies and the community on how best to work actively towards the removal of peace walls.
The document under the heading of Cohesive Communities promises a zero tolerance response for crimes motivated by prejudice and all forms of hate crime, whilst actively promoting rights and respect.
Emphasis is placed on building capacity at the grassroots level while nurturing leadership and empowering the local community to identify solutions to local issues
In relation to areas of economic disadvantage the document commits the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to continue to support, as part of the updated Social Economy Enterprise Strategy 2010-11, the development of a sustainable Social Economy Network until 2011 with a financial package up to a maximum of £600k.
The Draft programme also suggests that best practice be encouraged and that projects be identified which have proven track records of success in promoting good relations. The practice of sharing relevant research and experiences on a North/South, East/West, European and international basis is also to be encouraged. Social networks with diversity of culture are to be encouraged on North/South, East/West, European and international levels.
Ministerial Panel and Advisory mechanisms
The document suggests the creation of a Ministerial Panel to be chaired by the Ministers of OFMdFM and will include other Executive Ministers. A range of statutory and community organisations will be represented on this panel with community partners being appointed by the Ministers.
The draft programme also offers several options on how best to advise government. One of these options is to establish an advisory panel, another envisages the role being undertaken by a body operating at arms length to the Executive.
The document recognises that funding for community relations work comes from a number of sources. The Ministerial Panel will also be advised by a group bringing together the different sources of funding with the community relations sector. Representation on this Funders Group will come from key strategic funders involved in the community relations sector and will be chosen from government and statutory bodies, European funders and the relevant philanthropic organisation.
In addition the document envisages the Ministerial Panel for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration taking on board the interests of the private sector and Trade Unions in order to draw the work of this social partnership into the Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration. A Senior Officials Steering Group would also be put in place; tasked with coordinating cross-departmental allocation of resources.
All responses to this consultation should be posted or emailed to the following address, to be received no later than 29 October 2010:Policy Secretariat
email: [email protected]