04 April 2006

Money for deprived loyalist areas

BBC


Money is for health and education in deprived Protestant areas

A massive cash injection for improving health and education provisions in deprived loyalist areas of inner city Belfast is set to be announced.

The lower Newtownards Road, the lower Shankill, Crumlin Road and the Oldpark areas are expected to receive a share of between £25-35m in government money.

DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said it "must be used as a platform upon which we can build for the future".

But UUP MLA Michael McGimpsey said the money was "only a drop in the ocean".

The announcement is to be made by Social Development Minister David Hanson on Tuesday.

'Deprivation'

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Mr Dodds said that in the past, "those in positions of authority have turned a blind eye to what are often dire levels of deprivation".

"The significance lies in the fact that there is at long last an acceptance that there are real and lasting problems in unionist parts of Northern Ireland," he said.

"For far too long, pleas for equality for unionists have been met in many quarters with derision."

However, Mr McGimpsey said recent budget cuts in the Belfast Education and Library Board was evidence of a "topsy-turvy approach in tackling one of the biggest problems affecting loyalist areas".

He added: "In the Village area of south Belfast, there are 1,300 unfit houses.

"The costs to redevelop this area has been calculated at £180m alone - £30m would not begin to deal with the levels of neglect that have been allowed to develop in these areas."

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