CONNECTING THE COMMUNITIES OF STRABANE AND LIFFORD WITH NEW €8.96M SHARED SPACE
26 March 2021
Designed to bring people together and encourage greater levels of positive cross-community contact, the new shared space, known as Riverine, is being funded through the EU's PEACE IV Programme which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
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.
Also reflecting on the significance of the Riverine project was Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, who said: "I would like to congratulate Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council on the launch of the Riverine Community Park project, for which €8.96m was approved under the EU PEACE IV Programme. I am delighted to see these two Local Authorities working together in a cross border partnership for the benefit of the wider community in regenerating thirty acres of new community park space that will further strengthen cross border links and relationships within the area.
"This project will help bring together people from different social, cultural and religious backgrounds, while also having a transformative effect on the local area. My
Department is looking forward to providing funding and support to this very worthwhile project and to working with all parties to ensure the delivery of this essential Riverine shared space which everyone can benefit from," she continued.
Discussing this partnership and reflecting on the importance of the new space Donegal County Council's Cathaoirleach, Rena Donaghey, said she was looking forward to seeing the project in action: "This is a really exciting project for the people of Lifford and
Strabane. As a Council we are strongly focused on the continuous positive
strengthening of relations between all sides of our communities, I am looking forward
to seeing the work that takes place as the year's progress.
"I think this Community Park could be an exemplar for other regions and I would like to commend the SEUPB, Department for Communities and the Department of Rural and Community Development for funding and supporting such an exciting initiative," she continued.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Brian Tierney, also welcomed the project, indicating how it demonstrated the immense value of cross-border partnership working: "I am delighted to see the launch of the Riverine Community Park which is a significant strategic cross-border project for both Donegal and Derry representing partnership working at its best. The park will become a valuable resource for communities in both counties, bringing people together to enjoy a rich and scenic shared environmental space making the most of the fantastic natural assets we have right here on our own doorstep.
"It has been shaped to meet the needs of both communities and the variety of proposed facilities will connect people, promote environmental awareness, encourage more outdoor activity and provide a fantastic play experience for local children. Well done to all those involved in the project on both Councils for overcoming the challenges of these times to progress the plans to this point," he continued.
Underlining the significance of the project Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) said: "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.