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Ritchie dithering threatens community infrastructure

18 June, 2007

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said that the Neighbourhood Renewal Schemes are under threat unless the Department of Social Development releases money before the end of June.

Mr McCartney said:

"Many community based organisations are facing an uncertain future because the Department of Social Development has put on hold an announcement over funding.

"The department was due to announce last Thursday which groups were successful in their application for funding but this has been put on hold pending a review. This decision means that, for example in Derry City over 50 people do not know whether they will have a job this time next month. These people have financial commitments to meet and this uncertainty is adding to the stress they are currently under.

"Derry has been used a pilot scheme for the Neighbourhood Renewal Scheme and it is important that it is retained to finish the work it set out to achieve.

"I am calling on the Minister of Social Development Margaret Richie to state clearly what is happening with the review and set out a timetable so that the various groups can plan for the future. In the meanwhile I am calling on the Minister to make interim payments to fund these groups until the review is complete.

"I have been speaking to local community based organisations that have highlighted the services that will be affected. The Minister also needs to take into account many citywide projects that don't fall within the remit of neighbourhood renewal.

"Community organisations and statutory agencies have been working hand and hand to ensure that neighbourhood Renewal fulfils it's requirements for coming up to two years now and this work will be in jeopardy if a decision is not taken quickly." ENDS

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