Co-operation Ireland

Contact Information

  • Where - Northern Ireland
  • Website - www.cooperationireland.org
  • Contact Person - Peter Sheridan
  • Email - psheridan@cooperationireland.org
  • Address - 5 Weavers Court Business Park, Linfield Road, Belfast, BT12 5GH, Northern Ireland

Areas of Expertise

Co-operation Ireland has expertise in a range of areas, including:

Main Aims and Objectives

Co-operation Ireland is a leading peace-building charity on the island of Ireland, whose mission is:

‘to underpin political agreement on the island of Ireland by building positive relationships at community level, both within Northern Ireland and between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, through the promotion of mutual understanding and co-operation’.

Co-operation Ireland achieves this by working with groups from all religious and cultural communities to build vibrant societies based on the principles of respect for diversity and peace and reconciliation.

Co-operation Ireland’s programmes involve linking groups in the following areas and sectors:

  • Schools and universities
  • Youth and community groups
  • Local authorities
  • Media
  • Local and central government
  • Businesses and business networking/training organisations

Since it was established in 1979, Co-operation Ireland has created opportunities for groups from the two main religious communities in Northern Ireland and from both sides of the border to come together so they can learn about each other’s traditions and cultural backgrounds in order to help build a society which is based on tolerance and acceptance of cultural difference. Co-operation Ireland is experienced in:

  • Breaking down sectarianism and racism
  • Encouraging integration of communities
  • Delivering funding programmes, which encourage the creation of vibrant societies
  • Developing bespoke peace and reconciliation programmes for groups and organisations based in other conflict zones around the world
  • Organisation and management of events, conferences and fundraising challenges, which promote community engagement.

Upholding the Principles of Conflict Transformation

Co-operation Ireland works to uphold the Principles of Conflict Transformation through initiating work that addresses the root causes of conflict. For example, they work with young people in disadvantaged communities who are at high risk of being drawn into paramilitary activity, and who may therefore perpetuate the cycle of violence. Co-operation Ireland’s work seeks to prevent this. They also work with communities to build their capacity to shape constructive change in their areas, focussing on helping them to develop a shared vision for their communities and one that is based on integration rather than segregation. However, much of Co-operation Ireland’s work also takes place at policy level, working with institutions and agencies with a remit for Good Relations and conflict transformation, engaging and interacting with them and influencing them to adjust to the changing needs and situations of the communities they serve.

Where and with Whom

Co-operation Ireland’s work is located throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with a particular emphasis on border areas which have experienced acute levels of conflict and areas of high urban disadvantage and segregation. Co-operation Ireland work closely and have formed partnerships with other NGOs focussed on peace-building and reconciliation (for example the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation and the Corrymeela Community), and with institutional agencies and funders with a remit in this regard (e.g. Department of Foreign Affairs, ROI, Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, local authority Peace Partnerships and the Special EU Programmes Body, which is responsible for managing the EU Peace and Reconciliation Programme).

Main Activities in the Field of Conflict Transformation

Some of Co-operation Ireland’s main activities at present include:

  • Irish Peace Centres –Through an integrated consortium approach, Irish Peace Centres looks to embed reconciliation through peace-building activities and share learning experiences which endeavour to change attitudes and behaviours towards sectarianism and racism. The programme is managed by Co-operation Ireland and is delivered by a consortium of peace-building organisations located across the island of Ireland.
  • Youth At-Risk Leadership Project – a leadership programmetargeting young people who are at high-risk of recruitment into paramilitary activity.
  • FACE project (Family And Community Engagement project) – an innovative initiative to integrate British Army families in Northern Ireland into local community activity and reduce their isolation levels.
  • Ambassadors for Change – cross-community project in a flashpoint interface area of North Belfast. The project is an intensive conflict transformation programme for young people focussing on delivering specialised training in conflict resolution and life management skills. It demonstrates real collaborative community effort to improving community relations in the area.
  • iConnect Project – a single identity project to build the capacity of young people in loyalist communities in Coleraine and Ballymoney. The project uses sport, music and video production as a way to engage participants in exploring myths and assumptions regarding heritage and identity.
  • Anti-Sectarianism and Anti-Racism in the Workplace – A project funded by the EU Peace III programme and targeting and delivering training to workplaces throughout Co. Donegal.

Additional Information

Co-operation Ireland has a high level of expertise in delivering and managing peace-building and reconciliation projects and in particular the following may be relevant to the Global Coalition for Conflict Transformation.

  • Thirty years experience of delivering cross-border peacebuilding projects involving communities from every county on the island of Ireland.
  • A wide network of all-island linkages and contacts among statutory and non-statutory agencies, local authorities, civil society organizations, youth and community groups, the media, schools, businesses and training organizations.
  • Experienced in delivering innovative projects within the formal and non-formal education sector, designed to facilitate attitudinal change among schoolchildren and young people who have been affected by conflict.
  • Strong links with Education departments and agencies in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States, and a history of curriculum development.
  • Practised in the design, development and implementation of programmes using citizenship, arts, film, music and sports as media for transcending difference.
  • A recognised profile in the hosting of high-profile conferences and events dealing with the topic of conflict (most recently, the 2008 Mitchell Conference in association with Queen’s University Belfast and Georgetown University, Washington D.C.).
  • An organisation which has the confidence and respect of both communities and a reputation for impartiality.

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