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Concern that Nationalists losing out in new Ritchie funding package

20 November, 2007

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has voiced concern at the £3 million 'Areas at Risk' funding programme recently announced by Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie and said that it is essential the money, especially for socially deprived areas, is allocated on the basis of objective need and equality.

The 'Areas at Risk' programme is targeted at areas outside of the 10% most disadvantaged areas that are 'hard to reach'.

Mr McCann said:

"Analysis of the areas now being funded by Margaret Ritchie under this programme shows that Nationalists are losing out and money is being skewed towards Loyalist areas. No-one would argue against money going to Loyalist area that are in need or hard to reach but it is essential that social deprivation is targeted on the basis of objective need.

"There are many many areas across the north, including those outside of the 10% most disadvantaged areas, where communities feel they have little or no stake in our society. But it is not acceptable to have a situation where the £3 million in this programme is deliberately skewed towards Loyalist areas after the withdrawal of funding for the CTI programme.

"As the draft Programme for government makes clear - 'inequalities exist, and we must strive to eliminate all forms of inequality'. It would be regrettable if Margaret Ritchie falls short of this important goal. This means that there overarching responsibility on the Executive is to proactively change the existing patterns of social disadvantage not replicate them as the decisions behind this announcement would appear to do.

Note to Editors

The second phase of the programme includes: Lower Whitewell (North Belfast), Ballybeen (Dundonald), Gilford (Banbridge), Annadale (South Belfast), Scrabo (Newtownards), Killicomaine (Portadown), Alexander/Lisanally (Armagh), Ashfield Gardens (Fintona), Seymour Hill (Dunmurry), Craigyhill and Antiville (Larne), Harryville (Ballymena) and Caw/Nelson Drive and Lincoln Courts (Derry).

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