A review of PEACE III and considerations for PEACE IV

5 Sep 2012     Last updated: 20 Jun 2014

Key stakeholders, including voluntary and community groups, programme delivery bodies and the Special EU Programmes Support Body, had their say on how the PEACE programme is working to date and what they would like to see in the upcoming Peace IV progr

Contributing to political stability and increased community cohesion, balanced against bureaucratic and strategic headaches, and a series of recommendations for the new PEACE programme are just some of the main issues outlined in this report.  

Brief background

Known as the PEACE programme, it was designed in 1994 as a response by the EU to positive developments in the peace process and set out to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society and to promote reconciliation. The initial programme was followed by further iterations of the programme to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

So how is it working so far?

Between May and July 2012, NICVA in partnership with SIPTU, facilitated a number of roundtable events for the voluntary and community sector, aimed at reviewing successes and failures associated with the operation of the PEACE programme to date and opening a debate to examine the shaping of PEACE IV.  Tony Mcaulay also played a key role in the discussion programme.

Discussions centred around three key questions asking for views on the successes, challenges and future priorities of the programme.

Included among the many Successes of the programme listed were:

  • Increased political stability and secure political institutions
  • ‘De-sectarianised’ community relations in Northern Ireland  through common goals
  • Certain areas, small groups and individuals have dramatically benefitted from PEACE funding
  • The voluntary and community sector is now filling a gap by delivering a range of services from which the public sector has withdrawn
  • The potential for all sectors to be involved (not just for councils making decisions and accessing funding)

The main Challenges included:

  • Increased, unnecessary, cumbersome and inflexible administrative procedures and bureaucratic  delays negatively impacting on the programme’s successful and timely deliverance
  • The impact of work being done at project level is being overlooked by SEUPB due to a lack of qualitative feedback
  • Core community needs are being missed under a risk averse system which does not encourage innovation
  • A lack of strategic leadership and no agreed political strategy for reconciliation. Less a shared future and more an ‘invited society’
  • The focus of the original five strands was workable but became too focused on community relations

Discussions on Priorities for PEACE IV included:

  • Overhaul and rebrand the overly bureaucratic and administrative systems to de-stigmatise the programme and to become more user-friendly, efficient, accountable and focused on outcomes
  • Big Lottery and Joesph Rowntree Foundation are exemplars in terms of funding structure and trust building and would be useful models for SEUPB
  • Greater focus on long term and small innovative projects and those benefitting groups most in need
  • Political input and leadership required alongside an agreed overarching political strategy for reconciliation (PEACE model)
  • Civil servants in the border counties need help breaking through the economic, social and political interface that is the border
  • More support for smaller organisations to improve their capacity for funding and in the application process.
Read the full report, which gives much greater detail on the priorities for PEACE IV as well as an overview of the programme, feedback from the events and a number of case studies, below.


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