Youth workers, community workers and activists will gather at the Newtownards gate of Stormont today at 12pm and walk up to the parliament building in support of community relations work and in protest at the cut in vital funding.
In a perhaps unwitting testament to how important this work is, the BBC this morning ran a story about the rising tensions at the interface on the lower Oldpark road. There is also believed to be a sectarian motive for a recent house attack in Ballymena.
There are calls from local workers to increase engagement with the young people and communities involved in and affected by the trouble – but with the Education Minister cutting 70% of community relations funding, where will the money come from for this engagement?
Incidents like this show that sectarianism has not gone away in our society, and yet, it continues to be a low government priority. With the summer marching season in full-swing, tensions are high, and we may yet see further examples of why community relations work is so important – and what we may be facing without it.
Researcher, youth worker, human rights-er.