YouthPact project explores peace building at Cookstown conference

Loughry College hosts event on the impact and legacy of conflict

YouthPact project explores peace building at Cookstown conference

YouthPact project explores peace building at Cookstown conference

Youth Workers and youth programme managers from across Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland came together in CAFRE Loughry Campus, Cookstown, on Friday (September 21), to consider the impact and legacy of conflict as well as the theory and practice of peace-building. 

Those attending the ‘What is this peace?’ seminar were drawn from organisations who are part of the €37million EU PEACE IV funded Peace4Youth Programme, managed by the SEUPB. 

The YouthPact organised event was attended by over 45 workers and managers representing the 11 projects that are receiving funding through the Peace4Youth programme. 

Two decades on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the first investment of EU funds in grass-roots peace and reconciliation work, participants were challenged to look at legacy issues still impacting on and limiting opportunities for young people, including sectarianism and ongoing segregation in housing and education. 

The all-day seminar, which was held as part of the International Day of Peace, included inputs from Dr Martin McMullan, Dr Emily Stanton and Andy Hamiliton. Participants focussed on key aspects of peace-building work with young people, such as establishing trust and trust worthiness and managing risk and threat.

Reflecting on the content of the seminar Mikhaila Woods, Mencap, lead partner for the Heroes project commented: “The seminar reminds us of the need to pay focused attention to addressing the legacy of the conflict even with young people who have been born since the Good Friday Agreement. But we also have a reminder of the need to build trust in a distrustful environment. This requires skill and long-term investments in trusting relationships.” 

Cherith Cummins from Include Youth’s Strive programme reflected this sentiment: “It was a great day with excellent speakers who provided a thought provoking focus on what peace means for today. YouthPact provided the time and space for youth workers to participate in discussions, debates and looking at a more hopeful and peaceful society for young people in the future”


Eliz McArdle from the event organisers, YouthPact, said: "The purpose of this Seminar was to create space for practitioners to consider their own personal position in relation to community relations and peace-building work, listen to and gain insights from others and enhance their knowledge on existing and new models of practice in peacebuilding work with young people.  Youth Work builds on a long and committed history of working with young people in a contested space and remains resolute in the desire to work with young people in the creation of a fairer more peaceful society.” 


Match-funding for the programme has been provided by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Department for Children and Youth Affairs in Ireland.