Grassroots peace efforts continue despite Stormont crisis

Bill Shaw shrugged when asked about the latest crisis at Stormont.

“It doesn’t matter what they are doing at Stormont,” he told Irish Network-DC 10 September. “The peace process was birthed by community workers. It’s community activists that are taking the biggest risks, not the politicians.”

Bill Shaw. Photo by @IrishNewworkDC

Bill Shaw. Photo by @IrishNetworkDC

Shaw works at 174 Trust, a Christian-based social justice organization that has been “building peace and promoting reconciliation” in North Belfast for more than 30 years. He has been the director since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998.

The organization is located inside a remodeled former Presbyterian church on Duncairn Avenue. Groups and activities range from A.A. and Aspergers support to a Boxing Club and an Older Peoples Group. There are after school programs and pregnancy care. There are plenty of art exhibits and performances, even an Irish language class.

“We are finding common issues that will bring people together,” Shaw said. “People don’t stop being Catholic or Protestant, but they go back to segregated communities as changed people.”