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'Shared Future' Strategy Launched

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have agreed to a new strategy to work towards a "shared future" in Northern Ireland.

Together: Building a United Community is to be published within the next 2 weeks.

An All-Party Group will be established to consider parades and protests, flags, symbols and emblems and related matters.

The new strategy will include the creation of 10,000 one year placements in a new United Youth Programme offering young people employment, work experience, volunteer and leisure opportunities.

A dedicated programme will aim to "foster good relations and a shared future".

100 Shared Summer Schools/one or two week Summer Camps will be held across NI by 2015 for post primary young people.

Four Urban Village Regeneration projects are planned for large scale urban regeneration in targeted areas of deprivation.

10 Shared Educational Campuses are to be commenced within five years.

The Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland will be tasked to bring forward proposals on 10 new Shared Neighbourhood Developments. The proposal are to be brought forward in the next 2 months.

A new Cross-Community Sports Programme will also be developed.

The strategy will also implement a 10-year Programme to reduce and eventually remove all interface barriers, in tandem with the affected communities.

A statement from OFMDFM said: "Good relations across all parts of our community are an essential ingredient of building a prosperous, peaceful and safe society which is enriched by diversity and is welcoming to all.

"Specifically, tackling the twin blights of sectarianism and racism in addition to other forms of intolerance is essential in shaping a shared and cohesive community that can move forward and collectively face the challenges of an ever-changing world.

"Our vision is a united community, based on equality of opportunity, the desirability of good relations and reconciliation - one which is strengthened by its diversity, where cultural expression is celebrated and embraced and where everyone can live, learn, work and socialise together, free from prejudice, hate and intolerance."

But SDLP Leader Dr. Alasdair McDonnell said the announcement comes "short of what is needed to build reconciliation and prosperity in Northern Ireland."

He said: "It is clear the DUP and Sinn Fein don’t have a strategy for a shared future. Today's initiative includes much of what has already been agreed by parties. It is a repackaged CSI process with a bit of this and a bit of that thrown in with no details of what new money will be put behind this. It lacks ambition, imagination and conviction.

"The big scale of the issues and challenges facing us requires a big response; all party, all government, all issues, comprehensive and dealing with the fundamental issues of the past, a shared future, worklessness and the loss of hope. 

"We regret that The First and Deputy First Minister are opting for the easy road rather than stepping up to the challenge of leading our society thorough reconciliation."