Department for Communities Fresh Start commitments

The Fresh Start Agreement of November 2015 sets out the Executive’s commitment to tackling paramilitary activity and associated criminality. It set up an independent three-person panel – the Fresh Start Panel – to make recommendations on the disbandment of paramilitary groups. Its report was published in June 2016.

The Executive Action Plan for Tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality and Organised Crime

The Executive responded to the Panel’s report with the Executive Action Plan for Tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality and Organised Crime which was published on 19 July 2016.  It contains 43 commitments in response to the Panel’s recommendations, 38 of which are being delivered by Executive departments.  DfC leads on two actions i.e. A3 and B5.

A3 - The Executive should work with leading figures and organisations throughout all sectors of society to take a stand against criminality in Northern Ireland and promote responsible co-operation with authorities as part of a culture of lawfulness.

B5 - The Executive’s programme for women in community development should be designed not only to enable women’s organisations to continue to carry out transformative community development work in our communities but also to ensure that women are equipped to take on more leadership roles in public decision-making.

The Tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality & Organised Crime Programme moved to phase two in April 2021. The Programme has been extended for three years to 31 March 2024.

Phase two of the programme

Following a review of phase one of the cross-Executive Programme, it was decided to move to a benefits management approach for phase two. This new approach requires delivery partners to communicate and measure how their projects contribute to a range of benefits (i.e. how they influence positive changes), which the programme aims to achieve.

Overall programme outcome

“Safer communities, resilient to paramilitarism, criminality and coercive control”

The two over-arching objectives for phase two of the programme

Work Stream One: People and communities are safe from the harm caused by paramilitarism.

Work Stream Two: People and communities are more resilient to paramilitary influence and involvement in paramilitarism, criminality and organised crime.

DfC are responsible for taking forward intervention under Work Stream Two – “people and communities are more resilient to paramilitary influence and involvement in paramilitarism, criminality and organised crime.”

Programmes will be delivered in areas where paramilitary related incidents are highest.

Fresh Start through the Community projects

DfC will fund the delivery of a number of Fresh Start through the Community projects promoting lawfulness, active citizenship and helping build capacity and relations within communities.

Developing Women in the Community

The Developing Women in the Community Programme will provide training and support to women of all ages, equipping and empowering them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become involved in transformational community development, helping to support communities to move away from paramilitary activities.

Modules may include: Confidence & Self Esteem, Personal Development, Self-Awareness, Leadership, Communication Skills, Teamwork & Collaboration, Problem Solving and the Role of Women within families/communities. The programme will also include an element of family support and the opportunity to volunteer. For full details of this programme including how to apply to deliver the programme, visit:

For queries regarding DfCs Fresh Start commitments please contact the Fresh Start Team via email: FreshStart@communities-ni.gov.uk

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