The EU PEACE IV-funded Riverine project will help to address “high levels of social segregation, as a direct result of the troubles / conflict.”
The significance of the cross border project was highlighted this week, as it was announced that match-funding has been provided by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
All told, €8.96 million of EU PEACE IV funding is helping to create 30 acres of new cross-border community park space and infrastructure across Strabane and Lifford.
The ambitious project, which has been in the making for over a decade and has received considerable support from the community sector and local businesses, will encompass a number of uniquely designed elements.
These elements will include: a pavilion building (for various cultural and heritage events); outdoor wetland and park space (for recreation and environmental education activities); a family fun space (comprising of a toddler and junior adventure play area); cross-border pathways and greenways (to accommodate leisure and recreation activities); and a newly constructed pedestrian footbridge (that will symbolically connect the space across the River Foyle).
Following its construction, the Riverine project will continue to promote sustained and meaningful cross-border, and cross-community relations through a range of programmed activities, targeted at various groups. This activity includes: a community heritage engagement programme; a culture and peace activity trail; a creative arts programme and a shared space connections project.
The project represents a strong working cross-border partnership between lead partner, Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council, who will share the responsibility of its construction, delivery and maintenance.
Minister Deirdre Hargey of match-funding Department for Communities welcomed the construction of the new shared space, noting, “The new Riverine Community Project will provide everyone in the area, regardless of community background, with the opportunity to come together, to engage with one another, to get involved in activities and to understand and appreciate our diverse but shared culture and heritage.
“I applaud the vision of everyone involved to regenerate the riverside areas in Lifford and Strabane through the creation of an iconic community park. I look forward to visiting the project when the physical works are completed but I am confident that this will only be the beginning and that the benefits of the Riverine project will be there for generations to come,” she continued.
Underlining the significance of the project Gina McIntyre, chief executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) added, “Unfortunately, both Strabane and Lifford have suffered from high levels of social segregation, as a direct result of the troubles / conflict. The EU PEACE IV-funded Riverine project will help to address this by completely transforming the area and creating new shared spaces where people can come together safely and learn from each other; its very design will use the flow and joining of the rivers to encourage the reintegration of divided communities.
“Upon its completion, the Riverine project will both promote and increase tolerance and respect between local communities, provide long-term opportunities for social cohesion and also ensure greater levels of cross-border cooperation,” she continued.