Adams responds to new Moderator
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed the comments yesterday by the newly installed Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Rev. Norman Hamilton identifying sectarianism as “this demon in our midst”. Mr. Adams added:
“I have long argued that sectarianism is the single greatest threat facing society in the north today and it is imperative that political, church and community leaders take a decisive stand against it.”
However, the MP for west Belfast disputed Rev. Hamilton’s claim that the Shankill area “does not have effective political representation at Stormont since it is in west Belfast.”
Mr. Adams said:
“It is not true to say that the people of the greater Shankill area do not have effective political representation.
In the recent election I received votes from the greater Shankill. I am very proud of that fact.
Sinn Féin is for equality and inclusiveness for all citizens. I am the MP and an MLA for west Belfast – all of west Belfast, including the greater Shankill - and I and Sinn Féin take our responsibilities on behalf of all citizens very seriously.
I can understand if the Moderator is not across the detail of our work in that part of the constituency. I would be happy to meet with him to discuss this and the issue of sectarianism.
In the meantime and for the record Sinn Féin is currently engaging with more unionists across west Belfast and Belfast city, particularly in working class areas, on social and economic, and on bread and butter issues, than at any time in my lifetime.
Much of this work is taking place in the greater Shankill area from the lower Shankill, up through Ballygomartin and Woodvale to Glencairn; as well as the Blacks Road estate at Suffolk.
Sinn Féin is determined to provide effective representation for all of the constituents of west Belfast. My office helps hundreds of citizens with individual concerns, including many people from the greater Shankill and Suffolk areas. And through the west Belfast and greater Shankill Task Force and a range of other projects we have been actively involved in work which is delivering for the Shankill.
There is also significant and important work being carried out on a daily basis within the community sector which interconnects all parts of the west Belfast constituency.
Of course, there is much more to be done and this must include even more dialogue and the building of more connections. Sinn Féin is determined to push ahead with this inclusive agenda.”
Note to Editor:
- Since 2008 Gerry Adams has a series of meetings with the principals of nursery and primary schools in the Shankill and have been working to help in respect of a number of important issues, including resources for special needs.
- Substantial investment has been made in schools in west Belfast. That includes £1.54m invested in Forthriver Primary School. Sinn Féin is also working with the Suffolk community on the local primary school campaign and the future use of the school site and nearby playing fields.
- The west Belfast and greater Shankill Task Force which is a Sinn Féin initiative has secured millions of pounds for projects, including the Shankill peaceline art project; local tourism initiatives; and business units at Lanark Way.
- Sinn Féin is also working to move the Task Force into a new phase of delivery so that concepts like the Shankill Greenway Project can be given government support and investment.
- During recent months, Gerry Adams joined with the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Minister for Education Caitriona Ruane to secure the release of a £5m investment programme, as part of the west Belfast and greater Shankill Task Force.
- Dozens of new jobs have been created through the programme which is part of the new Integrated Services for Children and Young People which is part of the Task Force.
- Sinn Féin has also worked closely with the West Belfast and Greater Shankill Employment Services Board to secure additional funding for a further year for the work of that project.
- This supports local Job Assist Centres work with hundreds of long-term unemployed people in the greater Shankill area.
- Sinn Féin is determined to harness new opportunities for local businesses and draw in new investment. Sinn Féin is campaigning for substantial investment in the Mackies / Forthriver site.
- In conjunction with families bereaved through suicide and local support groups, Sinn Féin campaigned under direct rule for a new Regional Suicide Prevention Strategy with ringfenced resources. Since the advent of local Ministers, Sinn Féin has liaised closely with local groups to protect existing resources and to ensure that suicide prevention is now a priority for the Executive within our own Programme for Government.
- Through the west Belfast Community Safety Forum, we are tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. We are seeking to ensure public safety and the right of people, particularly the elderly, to be safe in their homes and on our streets.
- We are helping to spearhead pioneering work on the ground in every community, which brings statutory agencies together with community representatives and empowers local neighbourhoods. We want every family in west Belfast, including the people of Shankill and Suffolk, to be able to live in peace and safety, free from harm and crime.