Peace pioneer bids to create employment

Peace pioneer bids to create employment

Newsletter article - 18 July 2008

Article printed in The News Letter, 18 July 2008

A pioneering peace worker from South Armagh is opening 17 state-of-the-art business units in a bid to create employment in the area.

Ian Bothwell and his wife Pauline have been working in the border region for 29 years, inspired to live out their Christian beliefs of compassion and forgiveness by the worst violence they saw during the Troubles.

“There are many people in this area caught in benefit culture but our market research demonstrated there is a real demand here for people with viable business ideas but no office space,” said Ian.

He believes there is no equivalent service available elsewhere in south Armagh and pays tribute to the Department of Enterprise and the International Fund for Ireland who added generously to the charity’s own finances to bring the million pound project to fruition.

“The 17 turnkey units range from 10x7ft to 30x15ft in size and some of them have spectacular views of the countryside,” said Ian.

“Working in partnership with other local bodies, there will be help available to rent the properties for anyone with viable business ideas.”

The units are expected to be ready in the coming weeks.

Another recent aspect of his innovative peace work has been to erect signs around Crossmaglen which preach the message he aims to live: Reconciliation works; Reconciliation not only costs – it pays; God’s love heals and Try forgiveness.

After almost three decades, he and Pauline still cling to their mission: “God’s love compels us and enables us to endure the discouragements, ridicule, shame and fear,” he said.

They launched their radical lifestyle “motivated by death and loss of life in south Armagh and wanting to provide people with a different way of life”.

In 2003 George W Bush personally awarded Ian the President’s Prize for Reconciliation at Grass Roots Level. Earlier this month the charity also received recognition at Buckingham Palace with the Queen’s Award fro Voluntary Service. The award is given to groups that increase volunteering in their communities.

Last month the charity was one of only three groups in the Province to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Volunteering, which recognises groups who give of their time freely for the benefit of others.

“We have many supporters who sacrifice their time in support of this work,” said Ian. “For example, another ministry we are now offering to people in Northern Ireland is residential care for those who are homeless or have addiction issues, which we are doing in partnership with the statutory agencies.”

Photo: Stephen McClelland of Newry Mourne Enterprise Agency with Pauline and Ian Bothwell outside the Darkley units.

Article used with kind permission of the Editor of the News Letter