The Together: Building a United Community Strategy outlines a vision of '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'.

The Strategy reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. This strategy represents a major change in the way that good relations will be delivered across government. Departments will be expected to work together to ensure that outcomes are delivered on the ground. This will mean that funding is directed in the most appropriate manner through the most appropriate bodies on the basis of the themes in this strategy.

A key action of the strategy will therefore be the establishment of an independent and statutorily-based organisation to provide advice to government and to challenge all levels of government in terms of it performance in improving good relations. The Equality Commission already fulfils a similar role in terms of monitoring public authorities against the statutory duties in Section 75 of the NI Act 1998. We will therefore establish an Equality and Good Relations Commission to change their roles and responsibilities to include good relations, this will incorporate the existing role and new good relations role. This will place significant functions currently under CRC on a statutory basis.

This change has the potential for significant impact on the Community Relations Council. In line with the Management Statement for the Community Relations Council, OFMdFM will use the next planned review of the organisation to inform the detailed arrangements for future funding.

Whilst the main focus of this document is on improving community relations, these issues are not considered in isolation. To tackle issues of inequality we must improve equality of opportunity; by improving equality of opportunity for all, we make positive strides to address better community relations. Likewise, by tackling sectarianism, prejudice and hate we can contribute positively to removing and reducing the motivation for discrimination.

Underpinning Principles

The following principles will underpin the implementation of the Strategy and drive forward actions – at both a central and local Government level:

  • Cohesion
  • Diversity
  • Fairness
  • Inclusion
  • Integration
  • Interdependence
  • Respect
  • Responsibilities
  • Rights
  • Sharing
  • Tolerance

Key priorities

The strategy outlines how government, community and individuals will work together to build a united community and achieve change against the following key priorities:

  • our children and young people
  • our shared community
  • our safe community
  • our cultural expression

Each of the four key priorities also has a set of tangible and practical commitments: to continue to improve attitudes amongst our young people and to build a community where they can play a full and active role in building good relations.