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Maskey comments on Holyland Stakeholders meeting

28 October, 2009 - by Alex Maskey

South Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey, speaking after today’s reconvened Holyland stakeholders meeting, has welcomed the work done by the Employment and Learning Minister in trying to tackle the problems in the Holyland area but added that if the root causes are to be tackled then a cross-departmental approach is required to ensure that Assembly Ministers are not abdicating their responsibilities on this issue.
Alex Maskey MLA said,
“I, along with many residents of the Holyland that I have spoken to, welcome the interest that Employment and Learning Minister Reg Empey has shown in this issue. The work that he and his Department have carried out in organising the stakeholder forum and reconvening it today is to be welcomed.
“Today’s report shows that many of the key agencies which have a responsibility in tackling these problems are agreeing to work harder to help tackle the problems faced in this area. However, while this may offer some short-term respite for residents, the reality is that it falls short of what is required to get to the root causes of the problems experienced in the Holyland area.
“What is required is an overall policy plan for the Holyland area. This requires a cross-departmental approach on the Assembly Executive. Ministers need to work together to tackle the problems at their root cause. It also requires that there is satisfactory input into solving this problem from stakeholders such as the Universities and private landlords. At present this is missing and it only serves to allow both Ministers and some key stakeholders to abdicate their responsibility in all of this.”
He concluded,
“Minister Reg Empey is to be commended for working to tackle this issue. While other Ministers have attempted to evade responsibility he has faced up to the task at hand. The outcome of today’s meeting will provide some relief to residents in the Holyland area. However, I believe that much more needs to be done if we are to tackle the root causes of this problem. This cannot be left to one Department. A cross-departmental approach is required at Executive level; other Ministers cannot be allowed to abdicate their responsibility here. There is also a need for key stakeholders such as the Universities and private landlords to play a bigger role in tackling this problem. This is something which I believe we must continue to work towards.”

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