Co-operation Ireland believe that it is important to give our young people an opportunity to meet, learn about the traditions and cultures of other young people living on the island of Ireland if we are to create a more peaceful respectful stable society. In Northern Ireland in particular many children are separated from their peers at a very young age, as early as 4 years. Often they go through their formative years without having the opportunity to meet someone their own age who is from a different religion or cultural background. Over the years Co-operation Ireland has developed numerous programmes based around education and the education system, all of which aim to improve relations between our young people and communities. Co-operation Ireland runs a number of projects that are specifically for young people in education.

Entwined Histories – Part 4, Shaping Our Identity

‘Shaping Our Identity’ is a programme for young adults (aged 18-30) which will examine the complex issue of Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist (PUL) identity through a photographic lens. An interactive educational programme will provide the framing for participants’ photographic projects through critically examining key episodes during the ‘decade of centenaries’, including the Home Rule Bill and the Ulster Covenant, the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising. With support from Belfast Exposed, participants will gain the key skills to represent their culture and identity through the medium of photography.

This project aims to provide people from the PUL community with an opportunity to express their identity positively. It seeks to challenge both misperceptions and prejudice within PUL historical narratives and the negative perception of PUL culture and identity associated with trouble around the issues of flags and parades. Our hope is for participants to begin to engage critically with their history, and to find new and creative ways to express themselves and their identity with pride and confidence. It will run from 10th September and include 6 workshops and one field visit to Dublin, with the final exhibition scheduled for the week beginning 28th October. Each workshop will include a guest speaker and will be followed by a field trip where participants will be able to explore that week’s theme in their photography.

For more information contact Jonathan Evershed

Entwined Histories – Part 3, The Dublin Lockout

In the third Entwined Histories Series, the theme will be around the labour relations in 1913 Ireland, specifically focusing on the events leading up to and resulting from the Dublin Lockout. The project will look at the working conditions of men, women and children at this time as well as the formation of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, the Irish Labour party and the Workers Union of Ireland.

The project will provide an opportunity for young people to explore the history of the Dublin Docks Lockout at grass roots level and on a cross community basis, with the intention of creating an opportunity for dialogue and exchange between communities, deepening mutual understanding, broadening perspectives and strengthening relationships. 

Throughout the project, Co-operation Ireland will work in conjunction with Music Theatre for Youth to facilitate the young people in preparing a musical theatre piece that will showcase their learning and knowledge gained throughout the project.

The schools have already been recruited and project delivery will commence in September 2013, when students return to school.

Entwined Histories - Part 2, The Shipyard

The second in our series of commemoration projects followed the work done around the Ulster Covenant, focusing on the Shipyard during this significant 1912 period.  This was a historic time for the Shipyard with the launch of the Titanic and the effect of the signing of the Ulster Covenant on community relations within this working environment - a working environment that was so influential in Belfast at the time.

50 young people aged 14/15 participated, representing a cross section of schools with Belfast/Greater Belfast, engaging in drama and other active and experiential activities in order to learn about the Shipyard from the personal stories of the workers,  through to the political and social background in Belfast at the time. We were delighted to welcome Dan Gordon (The Boatyard) on board to share with the young people his knowledge of the Shipyard and expertise in drama facilitation techniques.

The final workshop will drew all the strands together, facilitating the young people to make sense of all the've seen and heard and prepare them for production of a final project.  The young people were free to pick any medium they chose and the projects (including a fully costumed shipyard rap and a series of short films) were presented by the young people at a final showcase day hosted by Titanic Belfast.


Entwined Histories – Part 1, The Ulster Covenant

Co-operation Ireland has developed a series of commemoration projects linked to the upcoming decade of historical anniversaries. The first in the series examined the Ulster Covenant. The young participants learnt about the signing of the Ulster Covenant, preceding and subsequent events; the general political, economic & social context of 1912; and basic film-making skills (with our partner Cinemagic).

Six groups of 15 young people aged between 14-17 years, reperesentative of a cross section of young people, then produced a short film through which they stated their perspective and feelings on an important historical event. 

The climax of the project was a red carpet showcase event hosted by City Hall, Belfast, on the centenary anniversary of the signing of the Covenant.  The films were premiered and the young people were applauded by a variety of guests including Brabara Jones of DFA and the Minister for Education, John O'Dowd.  To the delight of the young people, certifictes were presented by young actor John Bell.


Louth projects

Co-operation Ireland has recently two education projects specifically for pupils in County Louth and the surrounding area – Schools Connecting Cultures and Spiral for Schools.

Both projects address the priority identified by the County Louth Peace and Reconciliation Partnership of consolidating peace building among young people.

(i) Schools Connecting Cultures - Cross-Border Intergenerational Project for Primary Schools

The project works directly with 6 primary schools (five from County Louth and one from Northern Ireland) delivering a programme of activities, workshops and networking opportunities which aim to build awareness of sectarianism and racism among the participants and encourage them to challenge such issues effectively with their peers and in the wider community.

(ii) ‘Spiral For Schools’ - Cross-Border Intergenerational Project for Secondary Schools

The project is primarily for schools based in County Louth but it also has a cross-border element and includes a secondary school from Northern Ireland. Project activities will mainly centre around the urban areas of Drogheda and Dundalk and the more rural Cooley peninsula area. This ensures the inclusion of ethnic minority and minority faith communities, as well as those who have been directly affected by the conflict (victims) and those who have been displaced as a result of it.

Eight schools are involved, seven from County Louth and one in the Newry and Mourne district of Northern Ireland as well as a number older people from both sides of the border to participate in the storytelling and mentoring experience of the project.

All Island School Choir Competition

TheAll Island School Choir Competition is organised annually in October and November by Co-operation Ireland and RTE .  The competition brings young people together throughout the Island and celebrates the wonderful tradition of choral music in second level schools across the Island.

The competition is open to all Second Level schools and choirs must have between 20 and 40 voices  Application forms are sent to all schools and are also available to download in the Choir section of the website

Co-operation Ireland Student Journalism Conference

The aim of Co-operation Ireland’s annual journalism conference is to encourage student journalists to examine how the media can contribute to a greater understanding of the peoples’ cultures and traditions, both at a national and international level. Each year the conference is addressed by leading journalists and industry experts. The conference is specifically for journalism students from universities and colleges in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The conference is an opportunity to examine topical stories and network with their peer group. It is sponsored by the News Letter, the Irish News and The Irish Times.