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Maskey asks Minister to intervene to tackle Holyland problems

2 April, 2009 - by Alex Maskey


South Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has written to Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie to call on her Department to take the lead in providing high profile Executive intervention to ensure a long-term solution to the problems associated with the Holyland area.

Alex Maskey MLA said, “Last October I wrote to the Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie in relation to the Holyland area of South Belfast. In that letter I urged the Minister and her Department to consider an initiative aimed at resolving some of the ongoing problems in that area.

“Over the Saint Patrick’s Day period the Holyland area again attracted a negative media spotlight as a result of unacceptable behaviour. The usual condemnations, hand wringing and finger pointing took place in the immediate aftermath as predictably as ever. That no-one expressed surprise is probably the most telling aspect of the aftermath.

“Political representatives, community leaders, residents groups, and statutory agencies have all expressed their frustration and anger at the predictability of this persistent situation. I believe that this has become both an unacceptable and untenable situation.

“Having spoken to a wide range of representatives I am firmly of the opinion that a long-term resolution of this issue can only be brought about through a high profile Executive intervention. The Social Development Minister, Margaret Ritchie, has as her mission statement; ‘Building communities’ and further, ‘To improve the physical, economic, community and social environment of neighbourhoods, towns and cities in Northern Ireland with particular emphasis on tackling disadvantage’. With this is mind I believe that the Social Development Department is best placed to provide this intervention.

“While I do believe that the Social Development Department can have the lead responsibility in this matter there clearly is a collective responsibility on all other stakeholders, including other Assembly Departments, to tackle this issue. It is my intention to raise this matter with all of them again myself.

He concluded, “During earlier discussions that I have held with the Minister I raised a number of proposals which I believe could go some way towards tackling the problems which exist in the Holyland area. It is my hope that the Minister will again consider these proposals”. CRÍOCH

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