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Remarks by Minister Coveney at “Shared Island, Shared Practices” launch

Good morning everyone.

I’m delighted to be able to help you launch the “Shared Island, Shared Practices” initiative and I’d like to thank you for the invitation to be part of this important event.

I want to commend The Wheel and NICVA on the work that they have done to get this exciting project up and running.

I remember Deirdre and Seamus speaking last March at the Shared Island Dialogue on civic society engagement about their organisations’ plans to deepen their partnership.

They pushed ahead with the work and now this project seeks to bring together civil society on both parts of the island to address the real shared challenges that affect people and communities on both sides of the border.

At the heart of this initiative is an understanding that civil society, North and South, has an enormous contribution to make to the creation of a cohesive and inclusive society across the island - and that projects that work together on a cross-border basis have a special role to play in that.

I’m very pleased that my own Department’s Reconciliation Fund was able to provide significant funding earlier this year to support this initiative. 

I particularly welcome the fact that this project is being jointly supported by the Irish Government and by the Northern Ireland Executive, and that Minister Hargey will be taking part in today’s launch as well.

This is a significant project in its own right, but it also demonstrates the spirit and practical cooperation we want to champion through the Government’s Shared Island initiative.

The Shared Island Initiative is focused on enhancing cooperation and connection across the island to deliver better outcomes for all who live here.

This is being done through a programme of research, public investment, and civic dialogue - engaging more than a thousand groups and individuals across all regions, communities, and sectors.

The project we are launching here today is also aimed at bringing people together across different communities, political traditions, and regions on this island to work on practical, meaningful issues of common concern for the years ahead.

Our Shared Island initiative is about ensuring that we bring the same drive, focus, and principles to working for our shared future on this island, as we have done every step of the way with the Peace Process so far.

Civil society has played a hugely important role over those decades in creating the space, the engagement, and the confidence in communities to help drive the Peace Process forward – ensuring that the Good Friday Agreement is not just a political framework, but is felt within communities and across communities.

The “Shared Island, Shared Practices” project will foster shared approaches in the community and voluntary sector to tackle the practical concerns on people’s minds - like pandemic recovery, community development, training and digital skills.

The project rightly identifies that there is huge potential to support greater shared-island economic and social collaborations and to showcase what works in our communities.

I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge more generally the inspiring work of both The Wheel and NICVA. The community and voluntary sector continues to lead by example, encouraging collaboration, championing inclusivity and diversity, and working together to build a prosperous future for our island. I know that the “Shared Island, Shared Practices” initiative will be a very impactful and energising contribution to that work.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to help you launch it here today, and I very much look forward to seeing the new locally-shaped, and locally-owned collaborations that will help communities to thrive.

Thank you very much.