CEO Welcome Message

Since 1979 Co-operation Ireland has been laying the foundations for the building of peace on the island of Ireland. Thirty years later, the organisation has evolved and is focussed on recognising, celebrating and building on the positive side of Northern Ireland and cross-border relations rather than dwelling on the negative aspects.

As Chief Executive, my vision is to encourage us to acknowledge what has happened in our troubled history and find ways of ensuring it never happens again.

The political agreement at Stormont is in itself significant but it has not resolved all our problems. The majority of people here are still governed by their religious belief, from where they live to where they are educated. There are now “88 security and segregation barriers”,* the so called ‘peace-walls’, compared to 18 in the early 1990s – tangible evidence of a society characterised by “insecurity, threat and anxiety”.*

Co-operation Ireland’s work underpins this high level political progress with practical grassroots programmes. We believe that as a society we are in the third and final phase of moving towards a truly peaceful society.

Phase 1 was the peacekeeping phase – where attempts were made to prevent people from attacking each other.

Phase 2 was the peacemaking phase or the forging of our political settlement.

Phase 3 is the peace-building phase or the process of normalising relations and reconciling differences. This phase is long term and arguably the most important if we are to build a sustainable peace.

Co-operation Ireland understands that combating sectarianism and promoting reconciliation is a dynamic process and we are actively undertaking and developing programmes that positively promote a lasting sustainable peace. This reconciliation work remains vital, especially if we are to be economically viable and competitive.

We aim to achieve a situation where the existence of a border is no longer a barrier to labour mobility, to a society where people move freely and safely around the island and where people from North and South work and do business together for mutual benefit.

Ireland, North and South has benefited from the invaluable support of many international organisations and individuals. The support given to Co-operation Ireland, in particular by the European Union and the United States has enabled us to implement innovative grass roots initiatives. Now as we move into the peace-building phase, Co-operation Ireland is keen to return this goodwill by sharing our experiences and expertise with people working in other conflict situations throughout the world. We hope we can act as the catalyst in developing relevant peace-building programmes.

I am positive and enthusiastic about Co-operation Ireland’s future. We will work in partnership with the business community, government, civil-society organisations and the public at large to create a stable and prosperous society for everyone living here and in other conflict zones.

Please take time to read the information contained in this website – it highlights the remarkable work that has been undertaken by people from all sections of our society. I am sure you will find it informative and interesting.

If you have any comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@cooperationireland.org

Peter Sheridan OBE
Chief Executive

* source: Community Relations Council (2008) Towards Sustainable Security Interface Barriers and the Legacy of Segregation in Belfast