Cllr Nuala McAllister said: “Creating a shared future is one of the greatest challenges facing this society. We could ignore the issue and continue with a divided City, doing our best to manage the tensions, diverting scarce resources that could be put to much better use, and wasting opportunities. Or we can tackle the challenge head on, and build a Belfast in which people can live, learn, work and play together in safety. A shared future is the only sustainable way forward for Belfast.
“Belfast has been progressing community relations for a number of years. Not only should we consider the potential good relations consequences of all investments as part of the community planning process, we must make sure that our community plans are fair, open and effective in both addressing emergent community tensions and their longer-term causes.
“Shared future proofing is not merely an idea, nor is it impossible. My colleagues in the NI Executive, Stephen Farry and David Ford have been shared future proofing decisions in their Departments for some time.
“North Belfast is a place with much to celebrate, the renowned ‘cultural corridor’, the generosity of the people, huge steps forward in integrated education, facilitation and promotion of cross-community work to name but a few. However, North Belfast is a place where division is still evident. There are over 18 ‘peace walls’ in North Belfast. Ideally the number would be zero, although we realise that there is a lot of work to be done to get to that number. My colleague, David Ford in the Department of Justice has done much good work which compliments the Council’s peace wall initiative, taking positive steps forward to overcome the physical barriers of societal division. Along with the opening in the Alexandra peace wall, Limestone Road barrier and the opening of North City Business Park, much work is being done on the ground with the local community. It is this type of action that we must promote and progress.
“By shared future proofing Belfast Council decisions, we have a chance to ensure that we maximise our opportunities to create shared and open resources, increasing the attractiveness of our city and securing our future.”