This action research project, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, is intended to facilitate the development of a “New Common Chapter” representing grassroots support for collaborative and sustainable North-South and East-West relations. Whereas the “old” Common Chapter represented a high-level policy dimension through its inclusion in Ireland’s National Development Plan and Northern Ireland’s Structural Funds Plan (2000-2006), CCBS is working with civil society organisations from both sides of the border – involving in particular, the active participation of women, young people and Protestant community organisations – to produce a New Common Chapter that voices the needs of civil society. This work would result in informed and motivated community organisations on the island of Ireland able to engage with policies and policy-makers on the value of cross-border cooperation and ensuring that it addresses the needs of civic society. While achieving political support for cross-border cooperation is an important goal, CCBS expects that this project will help to create the conditions at community level for independent engagement in cross-border initiatives.
The project is now entering its third stage, with the participating groups having agreed a draft “New Common Chapter for cooperation within and between these islands” at the end of the second stage. This New Common Chapter will now be disseminated to other community groups on the island of Ireland, as well as to other stakeholders, and feedback gathered on its contents. Thereafter, the New Common Chapter will be taken to and discussed with community groups in England, Scotland and Wales.