St Patrick’s is Shared

St Patrick’s is more than just a building site – it’s a community. Who better to explain this than Harry Maher of the Department for Communities.

It’s quite apparent from the Department for Communities (DfC) five-year good relations plan that they are thinking long-term with shared housing sites like St Patrick’s – infusing good relations into the project from the initial consultation page to long after tenants have moved in. Not only does the plan seek inclusion within St Patricks but also with established communities in its direct vicinity and the town centre. It is in everyone’s interest that this model succeeds, as it could lead to more positive transformation across the country.

Harry himself said that this model of ‘shared housing’ is part and parcel to the tenets of the Good Friday Agreement and perhaps the most crucial next step in the peace process.

The binaries of ‘Catholic and Protestant’ – we don’t look at that anymore. We look at the entire range of socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural spectrum, ensuring representation across the diverse community that is Northern Ireland today; not yesterday.

And what could be more symbolic of the Good Friday Agreement than a new, shared tomorrow being fostered in a place that, for some, used to exemplify divisions of the past – and, for others, has always been a shared space?

Moreover, with an influx of young families, businesses and community activity in the heart of the town centre, Ballymena – a community that has had its socioeconomic woes in recent years – can get ‘on its feet’ again.

Despite a few difficult years, Ballymena is starting to attract investment again. There’s a lot of new development both within and beyond St Patrick’s, and I do believe ‘shared housing’ and, more importantly, the promise of a shared and prosperous future, is responsible for this.

St Patrick’s is proud to be a part of this new buzz about Ballymena and embed itself as a pillar of this community for years to come.