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Welcome to Good Relations Week. Our theme is “Then, Now...Next?” and we have chosen it to reflect the mood of this year. In April, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Belfast Agreement. So it has already been a time of reflection and stock-taking. However the year has also been full of thoughts about the future in the light of the discussions about leaving the European Union.

When the Agreement was signed it would have been impossible to imagine everything that has happened since. In the same way, we cannot assume what the next 20 years may bring. However we do know this: we shape the future and its possibilities by our actions here and now. When we were children, childhood was all there was. If we talked about “when we grow up”, it was disconnected from the “real” of now; it was a future into which we could place plans or fears but it was not real, not a tangible certainty.

It is the same for our collective future. It is hard to imagine things as anything other than what they are now; but, bit-by-bit change happens. Everything we do, however big or small, takes us one step further in time and into the future. Big events are important but they are always shaped by all the small choices that went before and after them.

During Good Relations Week we showcase events involving people who have chosen to build and sustain good relationships across our diverse community. We are grateful to everyone who is organising or attending the wide variety of events that will take place during the week. Your commitment and willingness to build good community relationships is the fabric of peace and it is changing the way we will share the future.

Even if they can’t imagine it now, our children will be adults sharing the future, whatever it will be. The rest of us have already had the opportunity to experience growing up and living in what was then to be the “future” and for us all sorts of unimaginable changes happened. As we look back and see the way in which change happens over time, there is also the chance to recognise the everyday opportunities we have to leave a safer, happier future to be shared by the next generation.

This year we have also created a new website where you can learn more about all of the events included in this year’s programme. You can search for events by council area, day and type of event and we would encourage you to explore the site to see all that Good Relations Week has to offer.

We look forward to seeing you during Good Relations Week.

Jacqueline Irwin

Chief Executive
Community Relations Council

Good Relations Week is coordinated by the Community Relations Council in conjunction with The Executive Office and the Department for Communities.