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Strategic Response needed for Whiterock area

5 September, 2007

Sinn Féin west Belfast MP Gerry Adams has commented on the Mental Health and Developmental Needs report by Dr. David Connolly published today.

Mr. Adams said:

"This small-scale study and report provides a useful piece of additional evidence about the many problems facing the residents of the greater Whiterock/Ballymurphy area.

"The extent of the trauma of the last 30 years of conflict, the feud between two criminal gangs, and the decades of structured discrimination and disadvantage have clearly had a detrimental impact on the mental health and quality of life of people living there. Despite this the people of this area have demonstrated a remarkable resilience and strength of character as they have worked collectively to tackle and overcome these problems.

"There is no lack of energy, application or ingenuity at grassroots within the Whiterock and Ballymurphy community. In the last two years significant and very positive work has been undertaken. Sinn Féin and local community based groups have argued for, and with some success, implemented an Intervention Project to respond to community needs. During that time we have held intensive discussions with government departments and statutory agencies about a properly resourced co-ordinated strategic approach. This is a major challenge for government departments and agencies. In the last month Sinn Féin has been pressing for their response to these discussions.

"One of the key issues requiring action is that of mental health provision. The shortfall in mental health funding in the six counties is a scandal. In west and north Belfast, this has been at a rate of more than £2million per year, over many years. The harmful effects of failing to correct that are evident in the numbers of people, particularly our young people, who take their own lives. Today's report underpins the need for mental health funding to be dramatically increased." ENDS

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