Monday, 28 March 2011

Ó Donnghaile: Campaign for alley-gates in Short Strand goes on

Here's a copy of a press release issued from me earlier today:

Sinn Féin candidate for Pottinger Niall Ó Donnghaile has said his party’s campaign to secure alley-gates for a number of streets in the Short Strand will continue.

Speaking from the area this morning Niall said;

“For some time now Sinn Féin, alongside residents in the Strand, has been campaigning to secure much needed alley-gates for a number of streets in the district.

In particular, the entry at Beechfield Street has presented consistent anti social problems which we have raised with the City Council and other statutory agencies for some time now.

Recently I chaired a meeting between Sinn Féin representatives, St Matthews Housing Association, Short Strand Community Forum, the PSNI and Belfast City Council all of whom were very clear about the immediate need for gates at this entry.

In fact the representatives from the Council made clear to those of us in attendance, that Beechfield Street was top of a citywide list for alley-gates, should additional monies become available.

The fact that this matter has gone on for so long, while other areas have secured alley-gating schemes, just goes to show the neglect of this community at a Council level over the past six years.

I commit myself to continue to work on this issue, confident that with the continued support of residents and community representatives we will be able to secure these gates.” CRÍOCH

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A good buzz around the place......

Photographed with the Rev Jesse Jackson are: myself, Cllr Deirdre Hargey, Alex Maskey MLA and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

Great buzz around Stormont yesterday for the arrival of Sinn Féin's All-Ireland Team of elected representatives.

TDs (rightfully so!) strolled relaxed through the once hallowed halls of Stormont, being greeted by DUP Speaker of the House Willy Haye.

Other parties were noticeably absent around the building when the evidence of Sinn Féin's national representation became clear for all to see.

One notorious tweeting MLA, who is never too shy in getting his mug on the TV, walked past several times, aghast and open mouthed, in disbelieve at what he was seeing. Of course his party either doesn't want to get involved in 'Irish' politics or on the other hand can't make up it's mind which of the Free State parties it wants to climb into bed with!

But sure as we say as Ghaeilge, ‘sin scéal eile’!

Last night we kicked off the canvass proper in the Short Strand. We have been out and about doing registration over the last few weeks and of course are always in the area engaging with people but last night was the beginning of the campaign proper. People were welcoming, friendly and positive and I thank them for taking the time to speak with us and look forward to continued engagement over the coming weeks!

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting with Civil Rights Champion Rev Jesse Jackson as he visited St George’s Boxing Club in the Market area. His presence and words had an immediate impact on everyone gathered and for taking the time to speak with everyone gathered we thank him.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Conor Murphy returns to Short Strand

Conor Murphy returns to Short Strand

Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy today visited the Short Strand to meet with representatives of the local Partnership Board.

The purpose of his visit was so we could put our case forward for a new lay-by at the proposed childcare facility at Pottinger’s Quay.

I’ve blogged about our plans here

Conor and I were joined by interim Dirctor of the board Patricia Johnson and fellow board members Mairéad O’Donnell, Patrick Devlin, Conor Keenan, Jacquline O'Donnell and others.

Conor was joined by officials from Roads Service who seemed more than willing to take our ideas and plans forward; we very much look forward to continuing to work with them on this exciting local project.

We also stopped by the land at the former Mountpottinger Barracks site to keep Conor up to speed on the plans for the development of social housing.

We also thanked Conor and Roads Service for securing traffic calming measures for several streets in the area; Edgar Street, Madrid Street and Bryson Street.
Other political parties have tried to lay claim to this achievement but thankfully locally people saw their cynical move for what it was and can easily see through it as a bit of an election stunt.

I blogged on Conor’s previous visit here

In the meantime here are some pictures from today

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Got to Dance!

Strand Extreme are one of Belfast’s premier dancing troops!

The local hip-hoppers have been to so many championships and won so many titles ive lost count.

One thing that is for sure is that these kids can move.

Particular praise must go to the parents of the kids who have tramped the streets of the Strand in all kinds of weather, as have the dancers themselves, to collect money for Strand Extreme Hoodies, transport and all-round general assistance.

I think it’s fair to say that the people in our area have been very forthcoming in their willingness to help out and fair play to them.

I first encountered Strand Extreme when they ventured one night into St Matthews Club shaking their buckets and putting the onus on those of us who are all so often prepared to criticise the younger members of our community, to put our money where our mouth is and dig deep to help support them!

And they did a brilliant showcase of their dancing that night.

That’s why, with the help of Simon Little from Phoenix Gas’ ‘Energy for Children’ charity I was delighted to have been able to help secure £1700 for new equipment and gear for Strand Extreme and the Doyle Youth Club.

I certainly look forward to continuing to work with Energy for Children to see what continued support they can offer to our young people and those many people who give up their time to provide what is one of Belfast’s, if not Ireland’s, best youth facilities.

Big well done to Coocher and Leanna and everyone involved with Strand Extreme and the Doyle for all the hard work they put in.

Go neirí libh go léir!
NB: Our photo shows me with the Strand Extreme boys & girls as well as their teacher Leanna, senior youth worker at the Doyle, Paul 'Coocher' McCrory and Simon Little from Phoenix Gas on the left

Beep!! Beep!!

Action Cancer’s Big Bus passes through the Strand

This week I, along with other community workers and representatives, welcomed the Action Cancer Big Bus into the Short Strand once more.

The service provide by this facility is valuable and I was delighted to hear that by mid-morning many local people had called into the bus and also into the Doyle where other health tests and services were available.

I want to commend everyone who helped put the Health Day together and thank all those who came in to offer their services. I have no doubt we’ll look to have them all back again soon!

Our photo shows me (usually I avoid heights!) with some of the organisers and workers at the Action Cancer Big Bus which set up home outside the Doyle all day.

St Matthews Attacked

This morning, as I have sadly done numerous times before, I ventured to St Matthews Chapel having just received a phone call to say that the Church had been attacked.

As we all know St Matthews is no stranger to attacks and I have blogged on some of them in the past.

Obviously this paint attack was particularly upsetting to those attending Mass this morning, who, despite the countless attacks on this beautiful building over the years, never get used to it. Of particular concern to the Parish is the damage caused to the spotlights, which nightly light up the stunning edifice of the Chapel, which were smashed and the cost of repair will no doubt run into the thousands.

Here's a copy of the press release I issued today and our photo shows PUP Leader Brian Ervine who, along with party colleague called to see the damage caused to themselves.

That small gesture, alongside the occasion when myself, Joe O'Donnell and Bernie Black went across to the memorial on the Newtonards Road, show that both communities want these attacks to stop and stop now.

Ó Donnghaile condemns attack on St Matthews Chapel

Sinn Féin representative for east Belfast Niall Ó Donnghaile has slammed those responsible for an attack on St Mathews Chapel last night and has called for community leaders from all sections of the community to show leadership in order to send a clear message to those behind it.

The church had paint thrown at it and several of its exterior spotlights smashed, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Speaking this morning Mr Ó Donnghaile said:

“This attack in wholly unjustifiable and has caused considerable damage. As many parishioners came to mass this morning they were understandably very upset at the damage caused.

“These type of attacks are unfortunately a sporadic occurrence with particular groupings of young people from both sections of our community, who are well known to the PSNI, causing damage and upset on both sides of the interface.

“I along with other community representatives within the Short Strand did not back away from our responsibilities when the local memorial on the Newtownards Road was attacked and vandalised. I was glad to welcome Brian Ervine, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party to St Matthews so he could see the damage for himself; I commend him for that stand he has taken today and I believe that we can collectively send a message on behalf of our communities that we want this to stop and stop now.” CRÍOCH

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Let's get the ball rolling

Members of the Short Strand Partnership Board come together at the site of the former Mountpottinger Barracks site - News that housing is to be built on the site follows a long and hard fought campaign by the community in the area to see this vision realised

Our Pic shows me with Patricia Johnson (Interim Director Short Strand Partnership), Mairead O'Donnell (Short Strand Partnership), myself, Patrick Devlin (Chairman St Matthews Housing Association & Short Strand Partnership) and Jim Black (Director St Matthews Housing Association)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Statement from Short Strand Partnership

Short Strand Partnership Board delighted at Housing for Mountpottinger

The Short Strand Partnership Board have expressed their delight at the announcement from the DSD this morning that the land left vacant following the demolition of Mountpottinger Barracks is be acquired for the purposes of developing social housing.

Interim Board Director Patricia Johnson, Chair of St Matthews Housing Association Patrick Devlin and local Sinn Féin Representative Niall Ó Donnghaile all welcomed the news.

In a joint statement they said;

“Our Partnership has always endorsed the position that this land would be best suited for the development of quality, social housing. We have been part of a long campaign and today’s news is no doubt a result of that hard work.

We look forward to seeing this land developed without delay.

Obviously it will be hugely beneficial for our community and once again we would encourage our neighbours who are in need of housing to ensure their name is on the Housing Executive’s waiting list. It is vital that we see this land best utilised for the common good of our community in a speedy and responsible fashion.

We have no doubt that our local, community based Housing Association, St Matthews, would be in an ideal position to take this exciting development forward.

What we need to see now is a meaningful engagement between the Department and ourselves in the local community.” ENDS