Making a difference in intercultural conflict: the Ballynafeigh centre in Belfast
To be meaningful, intercultural dialogue must involve citizens on the ground. While municipalities are closer to the citizen than states, even City Hall can seem remote from the perspective of the street. There, local NGOs are often a critical point of identification and, if they are committed to interculturalism themselves, sometimes they can facilitate dialogue in innovative ways.
Ballynafeigh Community Development Association in Belfast is an excellent example.
The association was formed nearly four decades ago, as violence raged in the city, by residents anxious that this 5,000-strong religiously mixed neighbourhood should not become polarised. Since then BCDA has become the hub of a network of capillary links across Ballynafeigh and central to the management of its cultural diversity, which extends beyond Northern Irelandís conventional consideration of Protestants and Catholics to addressing a substantial ethnic-minority population attracted by the relative security of the area.
How the association has achieved this and the challenges it faces in the future were addressed in a report which, in treating Ballynafeigh as a case study in the pursuit of intercultural dialogue in an urban context, is of much wider interest.