A Worthwhile Venture? Practically Investigating in Equity, Diversity and Interdependence in Northern Ireland

Karin Eyben, Duncan Morrow, Derick Wilson

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Abstract

Serious Community Relations in Northern Ireland is a search for practical ways for people of different identities, backgrounds and goals to live and work with one another with mutual respect. Coping with the real tensions around political divisions in Northern Ireland has always been difficult, and there is clearly no single blueprint of what this means in practice. Nevertheless, the real and expensive effects of the division and the tensions associated with it across many areas of life are undeniable. Better working relations therefore constitute one of the most important political and social tasks.If Northern Ireland is to find a democratic future, then the basis of community relations must also accord with basic democratic values. In our study of community relations training, three particular themes became central to our thinking. Community relations came to be about the search for the appropriate balance between three key democratic goals viewed together: Equity, Diversity and Interdependence. Previous research has indicated the need for a more sustained and strategic approach to community relations training for those whose work and lives brings them into immediate contact with community divisions. In the early years, community relations has involved youth workers, community workers, teachers and community relations officers in particular. Over the last ten years, there has been some evidence that other sectors, such as business management, law and order, health and social services, local action teams, and local policy makers have also begun to come into direct contact with the problems involved.The growth of greater institutional interest in some of these themes has nevertheless highlighted the absence of any coherent strategy. Community Relations needs to become embedded in public and private institutions, encouraging and supporting change in organisational structure and practice. It is increasingly clear that the ad hoc approach of the early years is problematic in the institutional sphere where action needs to be taken on a number of different levels: policy, structure and procedures, and training, within the equity, diversity, and interdependence framework. Translating community relations into new structures and procedures is central to any possibility of meeting the core objectives of all attempts at policy-making and training: the development of diverse and equitable relationships in Northern Ireland and, ultimately, between Northern Ireland and its neighbours.Given the greater interest in strategy, and the increasing number of people and sectors involved, it seemed an appropriate time to identify exactly how different groups and organisations were explicitly addressing equity, diversity and interdependence, both internally and in their relationships with the wider community This study is the result.Karin EybenDuncan MorrowDerick WilsonUniversity of Ulster, May 1997,
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUlster University
Number of pages261
ISBN (Print)ISBN 1 85923 082 2
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

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Keywords

  • Equity
  • Diversity
  • Interdependence
  • Community Relations
  • Northern ireland
  • Reconciliation
  • Organisational Learning
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Community relations training
  • peacebuilding.

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