Together: Building a United Community: Update

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 28th June 2021.

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Photo of Colm Gildernew Colm Gildernew Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 28th June 2021

T8. Mr Gildernew asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister whether the joint First Minister can provide an update on the important Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) strategy. (AQT 1478/17-22)

Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin

We have made significant progress in delivering the Together: Building a United Community strategy. A number of headline actions have been achieved: more than 24,000 young people have taken part in T:BUC camps; five Urban Village areas have been established; four shared education campuses have been approved and are progressing; 10 shared neighbourhoods are providing 483 new homes — that has been completed; over 6,000 young people have participated in the Peace4Youth programme; over 26,000 young people have engaged with the Uniting Communities Through Sport and Creativity programme; and the number of interface barriers has been reduced by 14. Although that represents huge progress, huge societal challenges remain around dealing with sectarianism. Together, we can deal with those challenges. We need to do more, and I am committed to doing more to try to build a truly inclusive and rights-based society that promotes equality, values difference and cherishes diversity.

Photo of Colm Gildernew Colm Gildernew Sinn Féin

Does the joint First Minister agree that the displays and behaviours that we often see at this time of year, such as the proliferation of flags and displays of hatred on bonfires, totally fly in the face of what we are seeking to achieve through T:BUC? Does she agree that people in positions of political leadership and responsibility have a duty to confront that behaviour, rather than encouraging it?

Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin

You are absolutely right that T:BUC commits us to improving community relations and to continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. The displays of sectarianism, intimidation and intolerance, which we see more of at this time of year, fly in the face of that commitment and should be condemned. The Member is also correct that all political leaders have a responsibility. We have individual responsibility and a collective responsibility. The clear message that must be heard from the Chamber is that we stand together to confront intolerance, intimidation and sectarianism in all its manifestations.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

We have time for one more quick question and answer.