04 March 2006

UPRG hit out at DUP


The UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group has hit out at the DUP who claimed this week they were working hard to secure funding for loyalist areas.
A DUP delegation met with the Minister for Social Development David Hanson on Monday seeking pledges that help would be given to loyalist and Protestant working class communities.
John Bunting of the Westland UPRG said claims by the DUP that they had been working hard to secure further assistance were “wrong”.
“Absolutely not, they only walk in at the last minute when it’s all over,” he told the North Belfast News.
“Community groups are making a difference, not them with their huge political mandate
“We are working at the forefront, we’re at the coalface. They are nowhere to be seen.
“All they’re doing is making dynasties, all the Dodds, Paisleys and Robinsons.”
The UPRG is actively involved in several projects with cross-community organisation Groundwork NI, the UPRG representative explained.
“We have five projects in conjunction with Groundwork in Westland, North Queen Street, Ardoyne in conjunction with community groups and White City,” he said,
“We’ve met with the Belfast Regeneration Office and DSD. We’ve also community houses opening up all across North Belfast offering advice.
“We’re in the advanced stages of negotiating a kickaround at the Westland end at Waterworks, a pensioners’ garden is en route to open up in May and we’ve signed up to the Council’s bonfire programme.
“In Tigers Bay and on the Limestone Road we’ve helped to set up a regeneration group which is trying to upgrade the houses and the look of the area.
“There is a also lot of cross-community work going on as well as the community projects in loyalist areas of North Belfast that we're involved in, and they [DUP] just walk in and claim all the credit. It’s just wrong. We’re making a huge contribution. They aren't.”
The DUP refused to comment on the UPRG’s remarks
But North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said a wide range of issues including education, skills training, regeneration and housing matters had been covered at that meeting with the Minister.
“We emphasised that a long-term strategic approach is needed and not the short-term gimmicks which we have seen in the past,” he said.
“These issues were raised because they are all matters where the unionist community, in particular, is not achieving equality and parity of esteem. The government must recognise that while in the past they have helped deprived nationalist communities they have failed to target and help many similar unionist communities.
“In December 2005, the DUP submitted a detailed 12-page action plan covering many of the socio-economic problems prevalent within these communities. These meaningful and substantial proposals which we have placed before the government could, if implemented properly and funded adequately, start to alleviate some of these problems.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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