OFMDFM’s Contested Space Programme

No, not that sort of space programme…  Maybe more like this sort of ‘space‘.

ANYhoo…  Late on a Friday afternoon seems an odd time for the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers to be announcing a 3-year £4million scheme which targets just “six pilot areas”.  That works out at around £220,000 per ‘pilot area’, per year.  You can build a lot of fences for that sort of money…

Although, they don’t appear to have defined those ‘pilot areas’.

The timing is even odder when you consider that “information sessions” on the scheme start on Monday and run for just one week.

But then, the International Fund for Ireland is in the process of being de-funded.

OFMDFM have conjured up £2million from the back of the sofa and an additional £2million is being provided by that familar organisation, Atlantic Philanthropies.

Formerly sole funders of those Restorative Justice schemes, and the NI Human Rights Commission’s failed campaign for a NI Bill of Rights – until the NIO vetoed further contributions – Atlantic Philanthropies are still part-funding the Restorative Justice schemes.  That’s due to end this year.

They’re also, apparently, still in talks with the NI Assembly Commission and are part-funding a Belfast-based news and current affairs website.  There seems to be a delay on that last one…  [Adds 14/03/11 – The Detail is now live]

From the notes to the OFMDFM press release

2. The programme will have four focus areas of support;

  • Early years and parenting programmes concentrating on young children and parents living in interface/contested space communities. Initiatives supported should bring about improvements in the quantity and quality of shared pre-school provision and/or implement, on a shared basis, an evidence-based programme that improves and enhances parenting skills.
  • Shared space programmes targeted and delivered through schools operating in interface / contested space communities.Initiatives supported should focus on producing educational, societal and reconciliation outcomes and should lead to increased levels of shared education across interface communities.
  • Interface youth engagement programmes aimed at young adults, including those not currently engaging with existing youth providers. Initiatives supported should provide opportunities, on shared basis, for the personal development of young people as well opportunities for them to make a positive contribution to their communities and wider society.
  • Shared neighbourhood programmes targeted at families living in interface/contested space communities. Initiatives should provide opportunities, on a cross community basis, for the development of the necessary mechanism to promote an ethos of community pride for those residents living in contested space/interface communities.

3. Applications will only be accepted by consortia, which must include at least one community organisation from each side of the interface/contested space and an organisation with proven capability in delivering outcomes in the chosen focus area(s). [added emphasis]

I’m not convinced Atlantic Philanthropies have a “proven capability in delivering outcomes” in their own “chosen focus area(s)”. 

And as for the NI First and deputy First Ministers…

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  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “As for the NI First and deputy First Ministers…” could the timing of this announcement be related to the forthcoming trip to Washington when they will be lobbying for the retention of IFI funding?

  • Drumlins Rock

    I’m away to get a close peg, this thing is starting to smell already…

  • Drumlins Rock

    *clothes peg, oops.

  • http://www.thedissenter.co.uk thedissenter

    good grief!

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Will those areas of Belfast which received Belfast City Council funding for its contested space programme a few months ago be eligible?

    OFMDFM: Please note that applications will only be considered from groups operating in the top 20% of the most deprived wards according to the 2010 Multiple Deprivation Measures.

  • Cynic2

    Question

    When aren’t electoral bungs and funding terrorist groups both illegal?

    Answer

    I dont know any more

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Are these pilot projects linked to the CRC/RCN report which was released in November 2010: “Beyond Belfast – Contested Spaces in Urban, Rural and Cross Border Settings”?

    Belfast Telegraph response: “Contested space is the final frontier of division”

  • son of sam

    Any guesses where such schemes might be located? West Belfast, the Bogside , East Belfast perhaps.The timing of course is coincidental but it tends to corroborate the S D L P views on the O F M/ D F M slush fund in the recent Budget.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Cynic2, the CRC/RCN report has detected an important dynamic in the contested space arena: the ‘vibrant local night-time economy’. Perhaps some of the OFMDFM or local council good relations funding will go towards marking out these hotspots so that visitors don’t suddenly find themselves in the middle of a right old ding-dong. A location that could be absolutely dead on a Tuesday night could be lethal on a Saturday night.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “the top 20% of the most deprived wards”

    It sounds like a game of darts: there are about 180 such super output areas/wards – if I’ve understood the jargon. No Moyle Council ward qualifies on the grounds of deprivation. There are pockets within wards which lie well within the deprivation criteria but they’re also not at interfaces. Visitors will vouche for contested spaces in some of these locations, even if they don’t fall within a CRC/RCN definition.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “£2million is being provided by that familar organisation”

    Perhaps it’s worth noting that AP awarded grants valued at over £4.5 million to 13 projects in Northern Ireland in 2010. But not, apparently, a penny for bloggers!!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Is the deprivation index table not based on the 2001 census? and therefore well out of date. As for the locations, I wonder if the locations of consultations give a hint, Belfast, L’derry, Newry, Ballymena and Dungannon? I dont like the sound of this project at all, particularly launched in the last two weeks of an administration, and involving old Chuck Feeny once again, I was hoping the details might have reassured me, but the more I read the worse it looks.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    It seems wards are a bit different from super output areas; ward info is available on NINIS.

  • http://amanfrommars.blogspot.com/ amanfromMars

    Question

    When aren’t electoral bungs and funding terrorist groups both illegal?

    Answer

    I dont know any more …. Cynic2 says: 12 March 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Crikey, Cynic2, the children in Stormont are real naive amateurs in the grafting stakes compare to the crooks on the other side of the pond ……. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703597804576194871565429108.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

    And the comments on that article are a nice read.

    Oh, and just in case you missed the monetary wizardry which keeps the dollar ponzi going, here is a short, informative video, straight from the horse’s mouth, so you know it is true. …….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjbPZAMked0

    Makes you wonder what Tory Boy Cameron is playing at, pimping austerity and cuts whenever the banks and the world is awash with funds invented out of thin air …… or are they just for bankers to hold everyone to ransom at their leisure and perverse pleasure.

    That is a dangerous game, for revolutions have been started and such dictators have lost their heads before, for an awful lot less than that, and the public have found it perfectly acceptable and right.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “involving old Chuck Feeny once again”

    DR, this thread gives a partial view of Chuck and AP; it illustrates the limitations of a tight or selective focus. A quick glance at 2010 funding – and AP is a funder – shows money going to research, the arts – and an accountancy firm. Deloitte got £40,000 for three months ‘scoping work on influencing budget priorities’. It doesn’t say whether this is the AP or OFMDFM budget. Perhaps AP has so much money it can afford to fund good, bad and indifferent causes :L

    It’s possibly also worth mentioning that such parallel funding can skew public funding. Some places of great need are getting multiple funding whereas others get nowt. I recall a request in the early ’70s from a community group in Coleraine for a centre being turned down on the grounds that they hadn’t had a riot. Some might argue that when they got centres they then also got riots.

  • Pete Baker

    “it illustrates the limitations of a tight or selective focus.”

    As opposed to repeatedly pointing at irrelevant trees…

    For the record, here’s the full database for grants to NI organisations and individuals from Atlantic Philanthropies 2001-2010.

    Don’t forget to check what the money is being provided for.

    Rather than taking “a quick glance”…

    And it does say that the £40,000 to Deloitte over 3 months was to “identify options to improve the analysis, transparency and accountability of government budget choices and priorities”.

  • Pete Baker

    Adds

    On the checking of what the money is being provided for.

    There are quite a few examples of the funding of efforts to influence the policies of the administration here.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “For the record”

    Thanks, Pete. We can look at the range of grants provided and decide for ourselves which causes we feel are good, bad or indifferent.

  • Pete Baker

    More than a “quick glance” required, Nevin.

    Despite what you had claimed, it does say that the £40,000 to Deloitte over 3 months was to “identify options to improve the analysis, transparency and accountability of government budget choices and priorities”.

    And that’s just one example of the funding of efforts to influence the policies of the administration here.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “funding of efforts to influence the policies”

    Thanks for repeating the point, Pete; it links to my ‘skewing’ reference. Presumably the funding of bodies – in addition to the Stormont administration – may well skew the development of the various strands of the 1998 Agreement too. Opening up the lens might reveal all manner of efforts in that sphere.

    Don’t worry too much about my ‘quick glance'; I stake no claims to perfection :L

  • Pete Baker

    “I stake no claims to perfection”

    Just as well, Nevin.

    Given your failure of accuracy on that Deloitte grant by Atlantic Philanthropies.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Given your failure of accuracy”

    Come, come, Peter, your portrayal of AP was a ‘failure of accuracy’ too. It’s no big deal.

    “as for the NI First and deputy First Ministers…”

    Not all outcomes are in their gift. Is there any chance you might offer a little more praise when they make an effort to act positively? Surely this would be in the spirit of the Slugger Awards.

  • Pete Baker

    “Come, come, Peter, your portrayal of AP was a ‘failure of accuracy’ too.”

    Nevin, just because you have decided that doesn’t make it true. There is nothing inaccurate in the post.

    Whereas the Deloitte grant award you commented on clearly identified what the money was actually for.

    As for the Slugger Awards, they’re in the hands of others.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “There is nothing inaccurate in the post”

    Pete, it’s a far from accurate portrayal of AP funding for a start. The addition of the record link is a step in the right direction and more revealing than a link back to earlier partial accounts.

  • Pete Baker

    You’re entitled to your opinion, Nevin.

    However wrong that opinion might be.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Our opinions and partialities are of limited significance, Peter. I’d like to see more pieces of the jig-saw wherever that’s possible as they may assist an improvement in governance, including a reduction in victimisation of the wrong people.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nev,

    You are clearly not comfortable with the “whole evaluation thing”.

    In education you teach kids to discriminate against the question asked, to select primary and secondary sources and to wrap a coherent argument making intelligent use of those sources (though not necessarily all in that order).

    Students are expected to name their references for that essay, not the whole A level reading list (though to be fair Pete has at least linked the full list of funding, or you might not even be having this argument with him).

    Pointing to that reading list and saying that there might be something in there which falsifies Pete’s argument is not the same as producing the missing/hidden piece and watching that argument delightfully fall apart.

    That’s where all this tree pointing comes from. Why not go out there and mill us some fresh timber?!?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    ” there might be something in there” .. Mick

    You mean something like: “DR, this thread gives a partial view of Chuck and AP; it illustrates the limitations of a tight or selective focus. A quick glance at 2010 funding – and AP is a funder – shows money going to research, the arts – and an accountancy firm.”

    Pete kindly provided the link after I missed the extra line on the accountancy item.

    I thought I was one of the folks who provided some of the ‘fresh timber’ on Slugger eg cronyism in NED appointments and Belfast Harbour breaching its apolitical guidelines. I see no great merit in selecting a few facts to back a jaundiced view.

    I don’t know what you mean by tree-pointing; it’s not jargon I’m familiar with. I prefer the conversational rather than the confrontational approach which you appear to be outlining. I like the jig-saw metaphor. It’s especially relevant when there’s a lack of pieces of information. I’ve found from experience that a laid back conversational style encourages those who have additional pieces to place them on the table and then we can all have a go at exploring how they fit together.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s not a jargon word, it derivates from the old saw connoting someone who is ‘not able to see the wood for the trees’.

    I don’t want to denigrate your contributions here, but oftentimes you allude to things that may (or may not) be hidden in the forest, but then eschew the kind of detailed or partial examination of the specific area/s of that forest that might draw out the evidence that might prove or falsify your own hypothesis.

    Now, in this case, you are right to suggest that Chuck Feeney has done a great deal more and broader work than Pete’s pointing at here. University of Limerick (known as the NIHE in my day) is a glowing example of the benefits of such philanthropy.

    But that does not make Pete wrong either in the way he’s marshaled his facts, or in his argument that Feeney has spent a lot of resources on bolstering several ‘progressive’ lobbying groups here.

    Jay Rosen:

    “No one ever says, ‘I went into journalism because I have a passion for being… objective.’

    “Or: ‘Detachment, that’s my thing. I’m kind of a detached guy, so I figured this would be a good field for me.

    “And yet… When they get there, people who always wanted to be journalists and make the world a better place find that the professional codes in place often prevent this. It’s hard to fight for justice when you have to master ‘he said, she said’ stories. ”

    In short, the facts matter Nev.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “does not make Pete wrong either in the way he’s marshaled his facts”

    Mick, it would help if you didn’t misrepresent what I said. Here are two sentences: “Peter, your portrayal of AP was a ‘failure of accuracy’ too” and “Pete, it’s a far from accurate portrayal of AP funding for a start.” I added a few pieces which Pete left out to redress the balance: “Thanks, Pete. We can look at the range of grants provided and decide for ourselves which causes we feel are good, bad or indifferent.”

    “eschew the kind of detailed or partial examination that might prove or falsify your own hypothesis … In short, the facts matter Nev.”

    In that context – the information gathering phase – I’m placing information on the table without weighting it just as others place information on the table. Some of it may be relevant, some of it may not. What I may think was of no great importance may be a vital clue to someone else and vice versa. Facts certainly matter and patterns of behaviour can provide clues as to where to look. Leaving out inconvenient facts may do someone a disservice or an injustice. It’s also important to resist the temptation to grab a few facts and rush to judgement.

    Our differing styles may jar from time to time but I do feel they complement one another. They also make life more difficult for those who are withholding information. As I may have said previously, I prefer the co-operative approach to the competitive one.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nev,

    You’ve accused Pete of incompleteness, not inaccuracy.

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree about the usefulness of your ‘comprehensive’ approach.

    Context is important, but there are other things you need to communicate clearly. For me, HR Grice’s Conversational Maxims are the gold standard:

    http://www.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOflinguisticTerms/WhatIsAConversationalMaxim.htm

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    I’m surprised you pull Nevin when there is so much spin in the original piece.

    Applications will only be accepted by consortia, which must include at least one community organisation from each side of the interface/contested space and an organisation with proven capability in delivering outcomes in the chosen focus area(s). [added emphasis]

    That is the OFMDFM criteria for funding but to Pete that somehow is linked to Atlantic Philithantropies:

    I’m not convinced Atlantic Philanthropies have a “proven capability in delivering outcomes” in their own ”chosen focus area(s)”.

    Then his dismissal of questioning external funding to Slugger as calling into question the project and contributors when that is exactly what he does above.

    If AP adding funds to a project makes it questionable, Slugger and Pete are open to similar questions. The reason that argument isn’t accepted in relation to Slugger is, its bullshit. Pointing that out isn’t off topic, man playing or anything else – it is demonstrating that the funder doesn’t control a project.

    Or do they?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Mick, the deliberate selection of some facts about AP funding to spin a yarn to the disadvantage of Robinson and McGuinness can IMO by no stretch of the imagination be portrayed as an accurate representation of AP funding.

    Grice’s Maxims might have some relevance where all or most of the pieces of the jig-saw are available to those who are engaged in the conversation. As you well know, Government officials, in some of the stories we’ve worked collectively on, have not only withheld information, they’ve also removed information that had been in the public domain and they’ve not maintained a proper audit trail of minutes and notes.

    By the way, gathering information/putting pieces on the table is just one tool in a comprehensive approach. Another useful tool is top ask yourself, “What would I do if I were so-and-so?”. And I have no problem agreeing to disagree :L

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Mark, I only spotted your post after I posted my 11:29 item – the latter was very slow in gestation :L

    You, Mick and Pete might like to take a look at the more recent thread on IFI funding. There can indeed me more to the story than a beam of light that is too closely focussed will reveal.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    ” then eschew the kind of detailed or partial examination”

    Mick, I don’t want to sound too melodramatic but some detail, if published, would endanger people’s lives. I’m sure you can figure out for yourself what that might involve.

    Some of the information I post – pieces on the table – is part of a fishing expedition. When the fish is landed it may then be consumed or it may be put in cold storage until more fish have been landed. Some fishermen/bloggers might be tempted to jump up and down when they’ve caught a tiddler :L

    Why do you suppose some London and Dublin civil servants who work here don’t use email addresses from their employing departments? Have you come across many who do so?

  • Mick Fealty

    Mark,

    That’s a pretty serious accusation. Where did Pete say that? I’ve been all over the thread and can find no trace of it.

    The day anyone claims (with any authority) that Slugger is above question, is the day I hang up my blogging boots and go home.

    My quarrel with Nev is not about defending Pete. It’s about quality of argument. What sticks, what doesn’t. Evidence, and what the co-operative principle in real terms.

    Grice viewed co-operation in conversation not as a situation where people pitch easily into lazy consensus, but where certain commitments are taken as a given. The commitments should encompass contention and disagreement.

    The four maxims are: Quality; Quantity; Relation; and Manner.

    1. Do not say what you believe to be false. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

    2 Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange). Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

    3 Be relevant. With this connotation cribbed from Wikipedia:

    “Though the maxim itself is terse, its formulation conceals a number of problems that exercise me a good deal: questions about what different kinds and focuses of relevance there may be, how these shift in the course of a talk exchange, how to allow for the fact that subjects of conversations are legitimately changed, and so on. I find the treatment of such questions exceedingly difficult, and I hope to revert to them in later work.”

    4. Avoid obscurity of expression. Avoid ambiguity. Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity). Be orderly.

    That’s all that’s required to be ‘co-operative’. It does not require credulity, complicity or unfeasible doses of relativism.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Mick, it’s hardly a quarrel; it’s a friendly exchange of views. I’m not too bothered when bloggers or commenters try a sliding tackle or come in with the studs raised; I can always do a hand-off, side-step or swerve :L

    ‘Quality of argument’ on its own won’t get us very far when it comes to stories like the Rathlin ferry saga, the Northern Ireland Water fiasco and the BIIG secretariat.

    IMHO judgements have been made and fingers have been appointed in the media (old and new) whilst the information gathering process continues to remain incomplete. It’s quite possible that some of those who will eventually be proved quilty will be mere willing or compliant accomplices.

    Perhaps a little more creativity and a little less navel-gazing would produce a Slugger bonus?