27 March 2006

The true spirit of Ballymurphy shows itself as residents take to the streets


By Laura McDaid

Scores of residents showed the true face of Ballymurphy with a huge clean up operation yesterday morning designed to raise the spirits of local people.
Graffiti, litter and other debris was cleared up in an extensive effort involving local residents, Housing Executive, Council workers and politicians.

West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson and Ballymurphy councillor Marie Cush grabbed brushes and joined local people in the operation which aimed to build community spirit and confidence in the midst of spiralling violence and antisocial behaviour which followed the death of Gerard Devlin.

Young people worked tirelessly with adults throughout the morning, removing graffiti, clearing litter and lifting debris strewn on streets after fire attacks.

The weekend event came on the back of requests from politicians for additional support from the British government for trauma counselling.

Cllr Ferguson requested counselling resources for St Bernadette’s and St Aidan’s primary schools to combat the adverse impact of the community tension on children.

Commenting upon yesterday’s event, Michael Ferguson said, “We are initiating a number of activities which are about demonstrating the true spirit of the people of Ballymurphy. This area has a long and proud history of supporting itself in the face of adversity and resisting external oppression as books written about the area depict very clearly. Today we, as elected representatives, are joining with the Ballymurphy Residents’ Association in the first of a number of environmental clean-up projects.”

Residents’ spokesman Tommy Holland said the clean-up sent out a strong message of community solidarity and intolerance of criminal gangs and anti-social elements.

“These criminals, young and old, have no concern about the welfare of Ballymurphy residents and the community do not want them,” he said.
“Today we are demonstrating community solidarity through this environmental clean-up, showing that we care about the image of our area.”

Volunteers thanked Belfast City Council and NIHE for their excellent support for the project.

Journalist:: Laura McDaid

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