It was a strong finish to the year for Lurgan Rugby, Football and Cricket Club (Lurgan RFC Club) as they claimed the Sport NI Sportmaker Project of the Year Award for their PEACE IV cross community initiative.
Announced this week, the prestigious honour recognises the Club’s ‘Building Positive Relations’ project and its success in bringing local communities together through the power of sport.
Funded through Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s PEACE IV Programme, the award-winning project uses sport – particularly rugby and Gaelic football – as the vehicle to drive engagement and education among young people in Lurgan who have experienced division and social inequality.
The project – which saw Lurgan RFC Club team up with local GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) clubs St. Peter’s GAC and Éire Óg GAC – provided access to shared sports sessions, events, festivals, training, educational workshops as well as other interactive community relations activities to help enhance cohesion and understanding among those from different religious and political backgrounds.
“On behalf of the council I am delighted to send my congratulations to Lurgan RFC Club on their win at this year’s Sport NI Sportmaker Awards”, commented Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Kevin Savage.
“Picking up the Project of the Year accolade for their Building Positive Relations initiative is a testament to their creativity and determination to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of many local young people. As a council we are committed to supporting and encouraging cross community relations and understanding in order to help our communities grow more cohesively together, which is why PEACE initiatives like this are so vitally important – and this recognition is so richly deserved.”
Highlights of the project have included rugby and Gaelic football taster blitzes, girl’s rugby sessions, school-twinning, Easter and summer scheme programmes, a ‘Game of Two Halves’ programme, cross border visits to the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park as well as a joint training clinic with Ulster Rugby and Armagh GAA.
Building on their cross community foundation, all clubs also joined forces off the pitch to help with the delivery of provisions to residents across the Lurgan area during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The PEACE IV Programme is a cross-border initiative, financed through the European Union and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). It has been designed to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. In addition to supporting peace and reconciliation, the Programme also contributes to the promotion of social and economic stability, in particular through actions to promote cohesion between communities.
PEACE Programmes have played an important role in reinforcing progress towards a more peaceful and stable society here since they were established in 1995.