Magennis backs community groups fight to stop interface cuts
Sinn Féin Councillor for the Collin area Stephen Magennis has said that community groups will come together tomorrow to work on a way to ensure that “diversionary projects” to reduce interface tensions will go ahead following a funding freeze by the chair of the Policing Board under the direction of the Finance minister.
Speaking today Cllr Magennis said:
“The news that funding for diversionary activities is being frozen by the chair of the Policing Board under the direction of the Finance minister is hugely disappointing.
“This has raised many questions from those who work at the coal face improving community relations and reducing tensions at interface areas especially over July and August when traditionally tensions are heightened.
“Such schemes not only deliver long term benefits but also improve the atmosphere within communities directly affected.
“A large part of the year is spent identifying, organising and facilitating activities which ensures that over July and August, key periods where anti social and sectarian behaviours can spiral, remain calm and peaceful.
“What is invested pays off tenfold in terms of maintaining and strengthening community relations, in terms of policing budgets and ensuring our young people do not end up getting caught up in something where they may end up with a criminal record.
“Both myself and my colleague Matt Garret chair separate PCSP’s. We have met with numerous community groups who are very worried about where this will leave them as the projects they develop to diffuse interface tensions may not now happen.
“Groups from across the community who will be affected have been invited to attend a meeting in Belfast city hall on Friday to work towards reversing this decision and sourcing alternative funding to ensure that these valuable schemes may go ahead.”