Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies have invested $38 million dollars in aging and dementia programs in Northern Ireland. The investment is part of a $90 million package announced yesterday by Northern Irish leaders. The Irish American philanthropist has invested well over a billion dollars in Irish educational and philanthropic programs north and south.

Announcing the Programme at the Crescent Arts Centre, First Minister Peter Robinson said: “This new £58 million package of services, under the Delivering Social Change initiative, will result in a real and positive change in the lives of people in genuine need. It is a clear and strong signal of the Executive’s determination to improve the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland.

“Aimed at helping those most in need, these three new projects will help provide support for people with dementia and their carers. They will help deliver improved services for parents facing difficulties and provide schools with the resources that they need to increase shared education among our young people.

“I commend Atlantic Philanthropies for committing £25 million to this programme and I thank them for the unceasing work and significant investment they have provided over the last number of years, both in Northern Ireland and overseas, to improve the lives of those most disadvantaged.

“Undoubtedly, the work that Atlantic Philanthropies has done to tackle division and social exclusion has done much to further our efforts to create an equal and fair society in Northern Ireland.”

The deputy First Minister said: “Although the £58 million is coming from different sources we all share a common aim. To make a tangible difference to the lives of the people who need it most. We must address the needs of all of our citizens, in particular those suffering disadvantage and those on the margins of society.

“The Executive is determined to lay the foundations for sustained social improvement and economic growth longer term. This £58 million will make a direct impact and signals our determination to ensure public services here continue to improve, and through these three projects we will support vulnerable people to overcome the issues facing them in their everyday lives.

“I thank Atlantic Philanthropies who have made a colossal contribution to our journey to build a more equitable society protecting rights and strengthening democracy. These projects will have a significant impact on the quality of people’s lives, now, and for years to come. The legacy will be a brighter future for the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Speaking on behalf of The Atlantic Philanthropies, Padraic Quirk said: “This joint initiative between philanthropy and government will build on the best of what we have learned to date in delivering real change to improve children’s outcomes, deliver shared education and transform dementia care."

Delivery will be led by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, on the Dementia and Early Interventions Programmes, and by the Department of Education on the Shared Education Programme.

Supporting the announcement, Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “I welcome the establishment of this new DSC signature programme, which includes a £25million investment from Atlantic Philanthropies in improving the lives of citizens across Northern Ireland over the next four years.

“The Dementia and Early Intervention Transformation projects within this new programme, which are being led by my Department, will improve outcomes for some of the most vulnerable members of society. The Early Intervention Transformation project represents the coming together of five Government Departments and Atlantic Philanthropies to work together to measurably improve the lives of children by supporting families at an earlier stage, before problems become embedded.”

Commenting on the announcement Education Minister John O’Dowd said: “Shared education can significantly contribute to improving educational outcomes and, in doing so, contribute to a more reconciled society. This additional funding will provide the opportunity to increase significantly the numbers of children and young people participating in Shared Education.”

Bernadine McCrory of the Alzheimer’s Society welcomed the investment in dementia services, saying: “It is really an encouraging time within the Health and Social Care sector with the launch of the Delivering Social Change Programme. In particular the commitment of the Ministers to understand and support the extensive work ongoing to improve the lives of people affected by Dementia. It is vital that we support them to remain valued members of their communities in a manner suitable to them. These programmes will provide the Framework for that work to progress.”