Project tackles issues on the ground for loyalist communities in Larne

Catherine Black from Larne Borough Council is joined by Noel Rogan (second left) and Colin Skinner from the Police Service for Northern Ireland and the SEARCH Project's Willie Cameron (right) at the celebration launch for the project at Stormont. INLT 38-600-CON
Catherine Black from Larne Borough Council is joined by Noel Rogan (second left) and Colin Skinner from the Police Service for Northern Ireland and the SEARCH Project's Willie Cameron (right) at the celebration launch for the project at Stormont. INLT 38-600-CON

A COMMUNITY development project encompassing loyalist areas of south and east Antrim has hosted a celebration event at Stormont.

SEARCH (South and East Antrim Resourcing from Conflict to Hope) is administered by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, supported with part-finance from the European Union’s PEACE III Programme.

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinihan, whose constituency sits within the area covered by the SEARCH Project, hosted the event, in Stormont’s Long Gallery. Other MLAs, including East Antrim representative David Hilditch, also attended. Larne Council was represented by Catherine Black

The SEARCH Project aims to improve the lives of people living in the area, with work plans being rolled out across south and east Antrim.

New staff are now on the ground, helping with community needs around the catchment area, which stretches from Whitewell in Belfast, north to Larne and Ballymena and west as far as Antrim.

A special advisory panel has been constituted, combining community, political and church representatives, together with council officials, to guide the work of the project as it begins to tackle key regeneration issues.

Dr Avila Kilmurray from the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, who chairs the SEARCH advisory panel from the SEARCH project said: “South and east Antrim has been an area long touched by the conflict here and this project will look at new ways of dealing with its legacy across the region.

“Events of this summer prove that while there is a peace process, lasting peace and justice will only come from very hard work on the ground and the SEARCH project aims to bridge this gap through peace-building activities and a new focus on social regeneration.

“Already, SEARCH staff and volunteers have been working hard on the ground to tackle issues like flags, bonfires and interface conflict and the celebration event will reflect this activity.

“Proactively over the past few months, the SEARCH team has been instrumental in organising positive activities, including four festivals celebrating Ulster Scots culture, while eight community festivals were held over the period of the Twelfth.”

Adree Wallace, who co-ordinates the project, believes; “SEARCH has the ability to be a powerful avenue for change in south and east Antrim.

For more information on the SEARCH Project, click online at www.communityfoundationni.org