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Anger at bias in Belfast city centre transformation

2 February, 2007

Sinn Féin West Belfast Assembly candidate and party housing spokesperson, Cllr Fra McCann has accused the Department of Social Development of bias against West Belfast after it emerged that key areas that link the city centre to West Belfast have either been ignored or dropped in the later stages of plans to transform Belfast City Centre.

Cllr McCann said:

"It is clear that the department is ignoring the urgent need to regenerate
the areas that link the city centre to West Belfast. In some cases key roads
such as King Street have been totally ignored and in other cases roads such
as Castle Street and Queens Street have been dropped into the later stages.
Yet it is these areas that are in the most urgent need of regeneration.

"Traders in the area that links West Belfast to the city centre are furious
at this apparent bias.

"My concern is that this is part of a wider approach of DSD and other
departments to the regeneration of the city centre and smacks of obvious
departmental neglect. We are witnessing a determined focus to push the city
centre eastwards and away from areas that suffer some of the worst levels of
social deprivation in this city.

"This is an area that DSD readily admits contains high levels of dereliction
that is a barrier to economic development. Yet government policies are
failing to support the transformation of this key gateway into the city
centre." ENDS

Note to Editors

The Phase One project area includes: Ann Street, Castle Lane, Corn Market,
Arthur Street, Callender Street and Arthur Place

Only after work has started on these areas will work begin on: Castle Place,
Donegall Place, Castle Street, Fountain Street, College Street, Fountain
Lane and Queen Street

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