09 February 2006

United front: Ballymurphy moves to ease tensions

by Roisin McManus

A new umbrella group has formed in Ballymurphy with the aim of easing tensions in the wake of the murder of Gerard Devlin.

Fear and tension have been high following the murder of the father-of-six in Whitecliff Parade on Friday last.

A number of arson attacks have been reported since the killing.

The group, calling itself ‘Youth Workers Response To Local Events’, have organised a series of events in the coming days. Trained youth workers will be on the streets of Ballymurphy talking to both children and young people and they will also accompany teens to youth centres and activities outside the area. Stress counselling will also be made available to any residents who need it.

The umbrella group is made up from members of a number of groups including the Falls Community Council, West Belfast Area Project, the Upper Springfield Healthy Living Centre, Upper Springfield Development Trust, West Belfast Parent Youth Support Group, the Base Project and Corpus Christi and Matt Talbot Youth Centres.

Activities arranged include bowling, trips to the cinema, football and hip-hop classes. The Ballymurphy Women’s Centre is also offering stress relief therapy for adults and children and the stress clinic will be open from 11.30am-5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Therapists will also be available to go to local people’s homes. Springhill House will also have its doors open at the weekend.

Niall Enright, Outreach Worker with the FCC, urged local people to get involved in the activities.

“Youth workers will be flooding the area over the next five or six days providing activities and diversions to get young people off the streets,” said Niall.

“Youth workers will be giving up their time and going out on to the streets between eight and eleven at night. We want to target those youths most at risk who may be standing out on the streets when the burnings are taking place and we don’t want them to get caught up in all of this. We want to make parents aware of the services and to let them know that they can send their kids to us,” he added.

The project has been welcomed by local Sinn Féin Councillor Marie Cush.
“I want to welcome this project, people are giving their time freely to take young people off the streets and I would urge parents to involve their children.”

For further details, the Base Project can be contacted on 90278651 and Ballymurphy Women’s Centre on 90 223220.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

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