Economic aid in Northern Ireland and the border area: perceptions of how the international fund for Ireland and the European Union peace III fund impact reconciliation and peace building
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Ethnopolitical conflict is often caused by the interplay of sectarian politics, psychocultural symbols and traditions; historically separate stories, economic injustices and structural violence among rival community groups. For example, the Northern Ireland “Troubles” were caused by the marginalization of the Nationalist and Unionist working class through sectarian politics. External economic assistance is used by the international community as part of the liberal peace to rebuild structures and to restore relationships among communities emerging from violent conflicts by addressing structural injustices and by rebuilding relationships. The International Fund for Ireland (IFI) and the European Union (EU) Peace III Fund were established to stimulate sustainable social economic development, peacebuilding and reconciliation among the Unionist and Nationalist communities in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties. This article explores the perceptions of community group leaders and funding agency development officers about how both funds impact social economic development, peacebuilding, and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border area. The study draws on interviews of 120 study participants conducted in Derry and the Border region during the summer of 2010.