Good Relations Week is an important opportunity to showcase how to build a united society, Alliance MLA Máire Hendron has said.
However, the East Belfast MLA said more still needs to be done to improve community relations here.
The theme of this year’s week is People Making Change for Peace, with hundreds of events taking place throughout Northern Ireland.
“There is no doubt Good Relations Week is an excellent chance to showcase opportunities which help build a united society and I recognise the efforts of so many people across our communities who deliver programmes which help to break down sectarian, cultural and racial divisions,” she said.
“However, a lot of good relations work carried out previously has been allowed to slip over the past number of years. Tensions across the community are now greater than they were even five years ago.
“More needs to be done to regain that momentum. Political leadership is essential, with an Executive playing its role in delivering on the promises made through the Together: Building a United Community Strategy. Many of those promises have not been addressed and others have been limited in their delivery, such as shared education campuses and shared neighbourhoods.
“I encourage people across Northern Ireland to get involved in Good Relations Week in order to learn about their own and other cultures. In that way we can become a more welcoming society for all and make Northern Ireland a better place for everyone to live and work.
“When the Assembly is restored, an important item on the agenda must be to address the outstanding and difficult issues which are holding our society to ransom and to agree strategies which will remove sectarianism and racism from our society forever.”