03 February 2006

West Belfast Gaeltacht Quarter has tremendous tourism potential - de Brún

Sinn Féin

Published: 3 February, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will meet with representatives of West Belfast based Irish Langauge Development Body Fobairt Feirste at their Falls Road offices 'An Nasc' later morning (11.00am) to receive an update on progress with plans for the development of a designated 'Gaeltacht Quarter' in West Belfast.

Fobairt Feirste has been working along with other Irish Language and Business interests in partnership with representatives of DCAL. DSD and DETI to progress the recommendation of the West Belfast and Greater Shankill Task Force for the creation of a Gaeltacht Quarter Development Board and the creation of a designated Gaeltacht Quarter centred on the Irish Language corridor on the Falls Road.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"Today's briefing with Fobairt Feirste provides an opportunity to receive an update on developments for the Gaeltacht Quarter in the heart of West Belfast. The Irish language has been thriving in recent years across the city of Belfast. In spite of government neglect and indifference to the language both north and south, the Irish language community has worked hard to ensure the sustainability of the education system, cultural and economic sectors.

"The plans for the development of the Gaeltacht Quarter are both exciting and ambitious and are rooted in the recommendation of the Ministerial Task Force which recognised the unique regeneration opportunity presented by properly resourced development of the cultural cluster centred on the Falls Road into a designated Gaeltacht Quarter. Such a development would compliment the massive revival of the language and promote a self
contained area where language enthusiasts can live and work. It would also open up further employment opportunities for Irish speakers and is a unique selling point for the City of Belfast in terms of attracting visitors and potential investors to a vibrant and unique cultural quarter. The Gaeltacht Quarter would undoubtedly become a long term tourist and regeneration centre on the Falls Road.

"It is now essential that there is a strategic focus between local businesses, the Irish language sector, the relevant British government departments and Belfast City Council to prime-pump activity in the area and to the develop a comprehensive business case and development plan for the Gaeltacht Quarter.

"The recent decision to designate Irish as an official working language of the European Union is a testament to the tenacity of Irish language enthusiasts from across Ireland to influence European decision-making. A similar level of commitment to the Gaeltacht Quarter will ensure it comes to fruition and receives the support of the local community as well as that of government.

"I will be also looking to other European regions to look at similar cultural-based regeneration models with a view to facilitating linkages and partnerships and to seeing what lessons which can be learned from them." ENDS

Note to Editor:

Forbairt Feirste was established in 1994 to 'promote our cultural heritage through economic regeneration'. The organisation's main aim is 'the creation of jobs and new opportunities for Belfast's' Irish speaking community'.

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