Historic jail visit for Rathgill residents

Members of Rathgill Community Association had a day behind bars recently as part of a study visit to the historic Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast.

Historic jail visit for Rathgill residents

Members of Rathgill Community Association pictured at Crumlin Road Gaol

The group made the trip as part of their ongoing activity with the EU PEACE III funded Building Relationships in Communities (bric) Programme. The initiative is a unique partnership between the Rural Development Council, Housing Executive and Tides Training and aims to cultivate good relations across Northern Ireland.

The outing took members of the community association on a fascinating tour of the Victorian prison where they heard about the history of the building once dubbed ‘Europe's Alcatraz.’

As well as learning about some of the prison’s most well-known inmates including Eamon De Valera, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, the group were able to sit in the Governor’s chair, view the prisoners’ quarters and pay a visit to the condemned man’s cell before entering the infamous execution chamber.

The visit was made possible by the bric Programme as part of its overall goal of cultivating good relations in communities across Northern Ireland and is just one of a series of over 80 bric initiatives aimed at building understanding and relationships in a variety of locations in the province.

Les Nelson, Chairperson of Rathgill Community Assocation, said:

“This visit has been a real learning experience for the group and we want to thank the bric Programme and Housing Executive for making it possible.

“Rathgill Community Association benefitted greatly from our participation on the bric Programme through the training, mentoring and activities offered by it.

Kerry McIvor, BRIC Programme Manager, said:

“The bric Programme has enjoyed working with Rathgill Community Association and seeing some really positive outcomes in the area.

“Hopefully this visit has been educational, entertaining and insightful for the group and will further their progress in ensuring Good Relations remains a key goal of all their activities.

“Through our working partnership with the Housing Executive and Tides Training, the bric Programme is active throughout Northern Ireland and works to enhance community relations, improve the environment of local areas, and benefit local residents.”

Raj Thompson, Housing Executive Good Relations Officer, said:

“The Housing Executive is delighted to be associated with the bric Programme and the invaluable work it does to help empower local residents as they work to achieve their goals of creating neighbourliness and inclusiveness in all aspects of community life.

“Study and educational visits like this are just one essential element of the Programme and offer participants a fascinating insight into our shared history and the lessons that can be learned from it.”