Morrow responds to calls for North Belfast forum

The Minister for Social Development, Maurice Morrow has responded to calls to set up a forum to tackle the deep social and economic problems of North Belfast.

The Minister said: “This is a law and order issue and I think I echo the feelings of all right–thinking people when I call for an end to the violence and intimidation in North Belfast.

“North Belfast is an area characterised by some of the highest levels of unemployment and poverty in Northern Ireland. Tackling the problems of this area has been one of my Department’s priorities.”

Mr Morrow said that last year an £8.6m funding package under Urban II programme had been announced for inner North Belfast, and £5.5m had been awarded to the Housing Executive to kick-start their North Belfast Housing Strategy, which will result in an investment of £133m over the next seven years.

“As part of the North Belfast Housing Strategy, a North Belfast Inter-Agency Steering Group already exists under the chairmanship of the Housing Executive’s Chief Executive. The group’s aim is to deliver an integrated action plan which deals with the problems of poor health, low educational attainment and social exclusion.

The Minister said his Department stood ready to work with all the people of North Belfast.

He said the draft of the Belfast Regeneration strategy, which is to be published soon, would build on existing plans for the area and ensure that the problems of North Belfast were tackled as part of an integrated strategy for the city. (SP)

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