Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Minister challenged to set out plans on Shared Housing

13 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has called on the Social Development Minister to tell people in what areas she intends to roll out her shared housing strategy.

Mr. McCann said

"While everyone would commend the sentiments of the Housing Minister in her recent statement of her intention to create 30 shared housing areas, including a new build at Loughbrickland and 29 others in what she termed 'existing areas' there are a number of questions which need to be answered.

"I raised the issue with Margaret Ritchie during question time in the Assembly and used the opportunity to ask her in what areas does she propose to use to implement this strategy.

"There needs to be full consultation with the residents of these existing areas and we need to know the cost of the strategy's implementation?"

Fra McCann also challenged the Minister to recognise that sterling work has and is being carried out at present along the interfaces.

"The Minister needs to get this right and there is an absolute need to bring with her the people who live in the interfaces. Any failure to fully engage with local communities on the Shared Housing Agenda could jeopardise all the good work being done by groups and individuals.

"I believe that in order to address the problem we must dismantle the sectarian mindsets and the bigotr in order to have a better, long-term chance of dealing with the serious problems that exists. You will not suddenly achieve this by announcing that you are going to create shared areas. It needs to be done as part of a planned, strategic process.

"The Minister must set out her stall on the future of this project rather than dodge her responsibility by attempting to blame others - which seems to be her trade mark. The Minister has heightened fears amongst people who live and work in these areas and she needs to allay that fear by telling people what her strategy is in regards the 29 existing areas chosen for this scheme.

"We all have a vested interest in trying to see an end to interface problems but unless we have clarification from the Minister on what her intended strategy is then the fears that maintain the walls will not be alleviated.

"I will be requesting a meeting with the Minister to discuss this matter in detail." ENDS

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