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Gerry Adams launches Integrated Services Programme for Children and Young People

20 January, 2010 - by Pat Sheehan, Westminster

Sinn Féin party president and MP for West Belfast Gerry Adams, speaking at the launch of the Integrated Services Programme for Children and Young People, this morning in St Mary's College on the Falls Road has said:

"I want to commend all of those who have contributed in any way to the Integrated Services programme for Children and Young People; and especially the West Belfast and Shankill Partnership Boards.

"They have done and are continuing to do tremendous work in this constituency helping disadvantaged communities. Comhgairdeas agus go raibh maith agaibh.

"This programme has been allocated £5 million over 3 years and is a vital part of the West Belfast Task Force.

"I want to thank the funders, always a sensible thing to do, OFMDFM, Education Department and the Belfast Education & Library Board.

"I want to begin by thanking people for their kindness and generosity to me and my family during what has been a difficult time.

"I have been moved especially by people who have told me that they or their family are or were in exactly the same position as my clann.

"There is now more disclosure about child abuse, a taboo subject, in today’s society. That is a good thing for everyone.

"And even though the first words are hard to say, and to hear, in the long term an end to a culture of concealment will create an educated, informed society with proper and enlightened and competent protections for children, and processes for dealing with victims and persecuting perpetrators.

"The issue of child abuse effects all sectors of Irish society.

"No class or creed or section is immune from it.

"There is also a life beyond abuse.

"With proper therapeutic support, with love and understanding, victims can become survivors and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives.

"Our duty as a society is to enable and to empower them to do this.

"In the course of launching an initiative like this I would not normally deal with the issue of abuse. I would do so at other forums.

"Maybe that is part of the problem. These issues need to be intelligently discussed wherever it is appropriate. This requires a genuine public conversation about all  the issues involved.

"So back to this mornings good news.

"This programme we are launching today is about looking at all of the services and projects which exist for children and young people in this area and bringing them together in a way which can deliver better and improved services. 

"It’s a simple idea, a common sense idea - but getting it up and running has been almost as difficult as getting a date on transfer of policing and justice from the DUP!

"Among the inevitable problems was funding – how much and who would pay?

"As is not unusual this became a logjam.

"But when we asked the Department of Education and dFM to intervene Martin and Caitriona did so.

"And I thank them for that.  

"Our young people and children are the future. Everyone here knows and understands that. That’s why you are here.

"Our young people are great. They are good citizens.

"Sometimes a small minority will get them a bad name.

"But the vast, vast majority of our young people make a positive contribution to our society and community through sport, education, community based projects and voluntary work.

"Finally, I want to say a few words about children and young people with special needs.

"There must be equality. All children deserve to be treated as equals and to have the necessary support and resources that allows them to enjoy a life as equals.

"I want to commend the Minister for Education for her good work on this and I want to commend parents and support groups, teachers and campaigners who are working so hard to ensure that our children and young have their full rights and entitlements and a happy life.

"This programme can make a real difference in people’s lives. 

"So good luck to you all." CRIOCH

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