Orange group’s plan to develop ‘vibrant society’
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THE Orange Order in Co Armagh is expanding its role as a facilitator for the various community groups who use Orange halls in the county as venues for their work.
The Markethill-based County Armagh Community Development Committee (CACDC), operating since 2005 to support emerging groups in the county, has opened sub-offices in Lurgan and Portadown and a strategic plan is being launched for the next three years.

The committee’s work will be spearheaded in a community development officer position by George Patton, the former executive officer with the Orange Order and former chief executive of the Ulster-Scots Agency.
Since 2005, the number of participating community groups has increased from six to 60, with help, advice, training and networking support provided by the committee.

The committee and its member groups have also forged cross-border links with groups in Co Monaghan.

Next Monday night, the CACDC will launch its strategic plan for the period 2010–2012 at Dan Winter’s ancestral home at the Diamond, Loughgall, where the Orange Order was formed in 1795.
The committee has identified a number of key objectives:

* Providing support to member groups;
* Building the capacity of participants in member groups;
* Building on existing community participation across Protestant communities in Co Armagh;
* Playing an active role in building a better understanding of Protestant culture;
* Developing and build on the existing effectiveness of CACDC.

The plan sets out in detail how these objectives will be achieved and how in turn they will deliver the vision of “a confident and vibrant society in which people actively participate to realise their full potential”.

A community development officer will be based in Brownlow House, Lurgan on Thursdays (9am to 2pm) and Mondays (7pm to 9pm) and Carleton Street Orange hall, Portadown on Friday mornings (9.30am to 1pm) to offer advice and assistance to the groups.

Funding agencies for the CACDC include the Arts Council, Awards for All, Community Relations Council, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, the Ulster-Scots Agency and Craigavon Borough Council.

The committee is also involved in a new project to help target isolation and social exclusion among the Protestant community in the Newtownhamilton area of south Armagh.

The programme will be launched next Thursday afternoon in Newtownhamilton Orange hall. The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under Rural Challenge Programme.