The BCRC staff team is given operational direction by the lead agency, Falls Community Council, and its Project Manager. Strategic direction is provided by Falls Community Council along with the other partner organisations, Charter NI, EPIC and Intercomm as well as by the BCRC steering group. In addition, BCRC’s practical interface work is supported by its cross-community and citywide Key Area Contact network.
Falls Community Council was established as an umbrella organisation in the mid 1970’s, with the overall aim of bringing community organisations together to share resources and advocate on community concerns. F.C.C. has maintained a pivotal role in developing the community infrastructure and harnessing community activity in West Belfast. FCC’s development plan details an innovative programme that will strengthen the community infrastructure in the area and provide opportunities for people to gain the confidence, skills, knowledge and vision to fully participate in society.
EPIC (Ex Prisoners Interpretative Centre) has been operational since 1995, although its origins go back considerably longer. Its primary objective is to address the problems surrounding the reintegration of politically motivated prisoners into the community and in particular those prisoners from an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) or Red Hand Commando (RHC) background. EPIC have, through a wide range of activities made a significant contribution to peace building in Northern Ireland.
CHARTER for Northern Ireland was established in 2001 as an independent think tank devoted to studying the causes of conflict at a community level in Northern Ireland. Over the years the group has sought the advice of leading strategic thinkers, academics, former members of the Civil Services, Political leaders, Foreign Services, Armed Forces, Police Forces, Paramilitary Forces, Foreign Governments and media persons who have been associated or have an in-depth knowledge and experience of the ‘Trouble’ in Northern Ireland.
Charter NI is actively engaged with a number of marginalised groups such as migrant workers/ethnic minorities, young people, women, politically motivated ex-prisoners, men and young offenders. All the related work is done on a cross community basis and strives to be as inclusive as possible.
Intercomm was established as the result of growing community concerns about the lack of formal structures to deal with political and sectarian unrest in the North Belfast area. The organisation was founded in 1995 by community activists Liam Maskey and Billy Mitchell with the aim to forge fruitful links between Catholic/Nationalist and Protestant/Unionist community groups through long term strategic development work, community inspired peace building initiatives, youth programmes and job creation programmes.
BCRC STAFF TEAM
Name: Joe Marley
Title: Project Manager
Joe has been employed with BCRC since its inception, initially as a Senior Development Officer and more recently he was appointed as Project Manager. Joe brought to the project his combined experience in both community development and conflict resolution work. Prior to taking up post with BCRC he was a Development Manager with a community development agency and before that he worked as an Interface worker in North Belfast.
Joe has been involved in many conflict resolution processes and initiatives which has included the issue of contentious parades. He sits as a board member on many community based organisations. He currently provides facilitative and professional support to emerging and low capacity groups in working class communities in Belfast.
Name: Jessica Blomkvist
Prior to taking up the post as BCRC Administrator in April 2007, Jessica worked as an Administrative Assistant at Intercomm 2005-2007. She has a background in Peace and Conflict studies from Uppsala University, Sweden (MA/BA). In 2005, Jessica also completed a 5-month internship at INCORE, the University of Ulster’s ‘International Centre of Excellence for the study of Peace and Conflict’, and she is currently pursuing a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast entitled ‘Transforming Conflict in Divided Societies: the Role of Religious Actors in Northern Ireland’.
Name: Seamus Corr
Title: Development Officer
Seamus has been involved in the community and voluntary sector for many years. He has been working with communities across Belfast in building up their capacity in tackling the many issues that face them on a daily basis. Before taking up post with BCRC in 2007 as a development officer Seamus has been chairman of Belfast Reconciliation Network from its inception. Seamus also sits on a number of forums, including West Belfast Community Safety Fourm, Springfield Interface Forum, Upper Springfield Safer Neighborhood Forum and also sits on the committee of Gort Na Mona Gac.
Name: Claire Hackett
Title: Development Officer Policy & Research)
Claire has been working in the voluntary and community sector for many years. She helped to set up the Falls Community Council’s oral history archive (Dúchas) about the experience of the conflict in West Belfast and has published articles about this work. She serves on the boards of Healing Through Remembering, Failte Feirste Thiar and Hanna’s House. Claire has been an activist in the women's movement for over twenty years. She is a development officer for BCRC with a particular focus on policy and research.
Name: Breige Murphy
Title: Financial Administrator
Breige has worked within the community sector for over 12 years. During that time she has had core responsibility for the management and administration of major national and European funding projects. Currently Breige is the financial administrator for the BCRC.
Name: Mark Vinton
Title: Development Officer
Mark has been with BCRC from its foundation in April 2007. Before joining the consortium as a Community Development Officer he was involved in voluntary interface work in the Springmartin area of West Belfast, where he was born and still lives, as well as some part time voluntary community work. Mark is chairperson of the S.M.A.R.T group (Springmartin Area Regeneration Team ) and an executive member of the North and West Belfast Parades And Cultural Forum and also sits on the West Belfast talks team for the Parades Forum. In addition, Mark is a member of the Springfield Interface Forum, Greater Shankill Community Safety Network, West Belfast Urban renewal and North Belfast Interface Monoriting Group. He is also a member of the BCRC Key Area Contact network.
Name: Brian Watson
Title: Development Officer
Brian has been involved in the voluntary and community sectors for over twenty years and prior to joining BCRC in June 2009 was employed as Community Relations Development Worker with Lower Shankill Community Association. He is a Director of Belfast Interface Project and The Community Convention and Development Company, Chairperson of Lower Shankill Community Network, Secretary of Lower Shankill Community Association and a member of the management committee of CHARTER Regional.
Name: Sam White
Title: Development Officer
Sam has been involved in the community sector for a number of years. Prior to joining BCRC in April 2007 he was director of the Re-imaging and Culture Forum in East Belfast. In addition, Sam was responsible for establishing the interface dialogue committee on a cross community initiative. He is currently the chair person for Lower Castlereagh Community Group (LCCG), East Belfast Core Group (EBCG), and member of Inner East Belfast Forum. Furthermore, he is a keen activist within various Human Rights groups.
Ronnie Black has been involved in the Community Sector for the past 8 years, both in a paid and voluntary capacity. He is a founding member of CRUA (Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne), established in 2001. In 2005 he was employed by the International Fund for Ireland as a Community Development Worker and in 2006 he was employed by the International Fund for Ireland to deliver a 3 year Community Development/ Relations project.
Ronnie is an active member of the following: BCRC Steering Group, Key Area Contact network for North Belfast, North Belfast Interface Monitoring Group, the North & West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum, North Belfast Conflict Transformation Forum, Upper Ardoyne Community Partnership, Ballysillan/Upper Ardoyne Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership.
Frankie Gallagher is current managing director of Charter for Northern Ireland but has worked in the community sector since 1981. He also has a particular interest in Trade Unionism, Human Rights, politics’ and transforming conflicts.
Frankie has studied for a degree in Community Development at Jordanstown and is heavily involved in developing empowerment through education routes within his community, especially for those who are isolated or marginalised and especially traditional subordinate groups.
He likes meeting people from different backgrounds and his personal interests are sport, studying causes of poverty and structural inequalities with the view to developing systems that will eradicate poverty.
Winston Irvine has been involved in community activism for over 16 years. Throughout that time, he has worked tirelessly on issues affecting working class Unionist communities, including housing and development, community safety/anti-social behaviour issues, lack of adult/youth provision and issues relating to cultural identity such as bonfires, marking out of territory, flags and emblems.
In recent times, Winston has been actively involved in high profile negotiations surrounding the issue of parades and protests across the city of Belfast and has played an important role in supporting and developing dialogue processes in other areas, where there have been problems associated with Republican and Loyalist parades and protests.
At all levels of engagement Winston has been an active participant in the Transformation Process. In the context of peace-building and transforming relationships he has contributed both strategically and at a grass-roots level, assisting positive change at various levels.
Conor is from the Short Strand area of East Belfast. He’s been active in both politics and the community from his late teens and has been involved in interface work from 2001. He is currently Chairperson of the Short Strand Residents Group, which has been dealing with the parading issue amongst other issues which affect the daily lives of residents. He is also a Board member of the Short Strand Partnership, a BCRC Steering Group member, committee member of the Belfast Reconciliation Network and a member of the Short Strand Drugs Awareness Group.
As founder of the Newington/Cavehill Community Services Association (NCCSA) and co-founder of Intercomm, Liam has worked to widely distribute the economic and social benefits of peace to as many people as possible. Through and beyond his work with these organisations, Liam has endeavoured to build peace, greater understanding, and tolerance across divided communities in Belfast and throughout the world.
Liam is also a founding member of the North Belfast Partnership Board, which was founded in 1997 to increase opportunity for social inclusion and community prosperity through the development of regeneration initiatives and programs that can improve the social, economic and physical infrastructure of North Belfast. Liam has worked extensively on conflict resolution across the world and was awarded the US Presidents Peace Medal.
Gerry McConville, a former political prisoner, is the Director of Falls Community Council, a community development organisation based in West Belfast. FCC is involved in the political, social and economic regeneration of the area and also works in the field of human rights, social justice and participative democracy. FCC contributes to strategic initiatives throughout West Belfast and across the city aimed at eliminating inequality and reducing disadvantage whilst promoting prosperity and peace building.
Billy Mc Quiston has been involved in community development for 15 years. He is the chairperson of Prisoners in Partnership which is a group supporting ex political prisoners from a UDA/UFF background in W/Belfast. He has been on the board of Inter-Action Belfast, an inter community organisation in West Belfast, for the last 10 years. Billy is also Chair of the Whiterock Festival Committee, Vice Chair of Highfield Residents Association and a committee member of The North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum.
Sean has been involved in community activism and community politics for over 17 years. This work has involved working at both a grassroots and strategic level in the form of residents groups, partnerships and forums. He is involved in many community development organisations across a range of issues and areas from conflict resolution and peace building, parades management and negotiations as well as tackling socio economic inequalities. For instance, Sean is the chairperson of Clonard Residents Association as well as Clonard Partnership, a board member of the Greater Falls Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership,a founding member of the Greater Falls Safer Neighbourhood Project and Treasurer of the Belfast Reconciliation Network. He is also on the board of the Belfast Conflict Resolution Consortium and a member of the Strategic Review of Parades Body.
Sean has wide ranging experience in a variety of areas from community development to strategic planning, policy development and feeding into the political process. Throughout all his work he has gained experience and knowledge of working at a grassroots level with residents groups and community development organisations and also at a strategic level with statutory agencies, political representatives, public bodies and government departments. Sean has extensive experience in dealing with the legacy of the conflict and the outstanding contentious issues that still exist both at micro and macro levels. He deals on a daily basis with parading disputes, interface conflict and management issues and works to develop dialogue process with key community leaders and organisations and other stakeholders.
Joe O’Donnell is the director of the Short Strand Partnership. Joe has been employed in this post for approx 12 years. In his time with the Partnership Joe has been involved in attracting over £10 million to the area either through capital or revenue projects. Joe’s main duties with the Partnership are to regenerate the Short Strand area and to look at sustainability for community projects.
Joe sits on a wide range of Boards, these include:East Belfast Economic Forum, Short Strand Community Forum, Titanic Quarter Advisory Group, The Skainos Project, Inner East Belfast Interface Project, St. Matthews Housing Association, Co-operation Ireland C.O.R.E. Project, Belfast Conflict Resolution Consortium, Belfast Reconciliation Network.
Joe has worked within the Community Sector for 20 years and has made the establishment of adequate financial and infrastructure support for this sector one of his main areas of concern.
He has also served on Belfast City Council for the Pottinger ward and during that term as Deputy Mayor for the period 2004/2005.
Gerry has been involved in community development for 30 years. Previous experience includes working with residents groups, housing groups, youth groups and health and well-being groups. He also works with various interface community bodies and with major retailers, community groups and statutory bodies in bringing about change in quality of life issues at the interfaces.
He is employed by the North Belfast Developing Leadership Initiative to offer support and assistance to grassroots organisations and to address issues that are affecting interface areas.
Gerry was previously a coordinator with Restorative Justice Ireland and provided mediation services for 4 years. He is on the board of the Ashton Centre, Chair of the local ex-prisoners group Tar Isteach and he is also an independent member of the North Belfast Policing Partnership.
Tom Roberts – BCRC Chair
Tom Roberts is the Director of EPIC (Ex Prisoners Interpretative Centre), an organisation representing the interests of loyalist ex-prisoners from an Ulster Volunteer Force background. A community activist, he is also currently a Board member of Interaction Belfast, a trustee of NIACRO’s Educational Trust, a trustee of the David Ervine Foundation and a member of Healing Through Remembering. He also serves on the Management Committee of Greater Shankill Alternatives, a community based restorative justice project.
Tom has a BA (Honours) degree, first class, in mathematics and computer science and a diploma in conflict management and political development.
KEY AREA CONTACTS
The BCRC has developed a Key Area Contact structure to provide a strategic response to interface tension and violence. An early warning system and mobile phone network have been put in place citywide which enables a joined up approach to dealing with interface incidents. There are currently 20 primary Key Area Contacts, covering South, East, North and West Belfast. However, at times of crisis and disputed parades, the BCRC through its constituent groups can mobilise up to 200 local volunteer practitioners to manage potentially violent situations.