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Suffolk funding highlights double standards

6 January, 2006

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson has voiced concern that the announcement that the Department of Social Development through the Belfast Regeneration Office has allocated £37,000 to support a community worker in the Loyalist Suffolk/Blacks Road area in West Belfast under the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy is evidence of double standards.

Mr Ferguson said:

"I think that many people will be very angry that at a time when the adjacent Lagmore area has seen the loss of funding that has resulted in the loss of a community development worker from that community that British direct rule minister David Hanson can find the money to sustain a similar post in the Suffolk/Blacks Road area.

"The idea that taking resources from one community and giving them to another will support good community relations is a nonsense, particularly when Lenadoon and Lagmore is consistently identified as one of the most disadvantaged in the Six Counties.

"The key to reducing tension in interface areas is to ensure that capacity is developed and sustained within both communities.

"A far more even handed approach would have been to sustain funding in both communities. This would also tackle the growing perception that British direct rule ministers are bending over backwards to placate Loyalists while ignoring the poverty and disadvantage that also exist in nationalist communities. Either money is allocated on the basis of need or it is not." ENDS

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