Junior Ministers Declan Kearney and Gary Middleton have welcomed the launch of a new community safety initiative in North Belfast as another positive step towards tackling paramilitarism and organised crime in the area.
The North Belfast Community Safety Engagement Forum, which is funded by The Executive Office’s Communities in Transition (CIT) Programme, was officially launched at an event in the Houben Centre, Crumlin Road.
Junior Minister Kearney, who spoke at the launch, said:
“Communities in Transition is a key part of the Executive’s Plan for Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality, and Organised Crime. It supports local communities to thrive and grow through the development of community-led initiatives, focussing on key issues such as capacity building, health and well-being and community safety.
“I was delighted to attend the launch of this new Community Safety Engagement Forum, which will provide a vehicle for local people in this part of North Belfast to work in partnership with statutory agencies to find solutions to community safety issues impacting on their neighbourhoods.
“We all have a role to play in making our communities more united places where everyone feels safe and welcome. And I am confident that this new partnership approach to addressing identified local issues will make a significant contribution to achieving that goal in this part of North Belfast.”
North Belfast is one of the eight areas supported by the Communities in Transition programme. It aims to build capacity within these areas to help them develop as communities where paramilitarism and criminality no longer play a role.
Junior Minister Middleton said:
“Projects being delivered across the eight CIT areas are making a real difference on the ground. By building community confidence, capacity and cohesion we are narrowing the space in which paramilitaries and other criminal elements are able to operate.
“I am greatly encouraged by the positive impact these efforts are having in local communities where the programme is being delivered, and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this important work.”
Jim McCarthy, Assistant Director of Community Restorative Justice Ireland - the delivery partners charged with taking the project forward - commented:
“Community Restorative Justice Ireland is excited to launch the North Belfast Community Safety Engagement Forum as part of The Executive Office’s Communities in Transition Programme.
“This Forum provides the opportunity to significantly build upon the capacity and structures that currently exist in the North Belfast CIT area and aligns with the core ethos of building trust and understanding between community and statutory organisations so that they can work better together, whilst empowering communities to take a proactive role in improving community safety.
“Through this collaborative approach we hope to build a strong, resilient community with the capacity to deliver positive change in the area.
“We are committed to working together in true partnership in order to achieve our shared objectives.”
Attendees at the launch event heard how similar forums developed with the support of Communities in Transition have been well received in the Lurgan and Drumgask area of County Armagh, where the CIT programme also operates.
Notes to editors:
- The Communities in Transition (CIT) Project aims to support eight geographic areas where there has been a history of paramilitary activity and coercive control to transition into communities where paramilitary activity no longer plays a role.
- The project is designed to support ambitious initiatives that will build the capacity of individuals and groups to affect positive change for themselves and their communities.
- CIT operates in eight areas - North Down (Kilcooley & Rathgill), West Belfast (Lower Falls, Twinbrook, Poleglass, Upper Springfield, Turf Lodge and Ballymurphy), East Belfast (The Mount and Ballymacarrett), Shankill, Derry/Londonderry (Brandywell and Creggan), Carrickfergus and Larne (Antiville and Kilwaughter in Larne, Northland and Castlemara in Carrickfergus), North Belfast (New Lodge and Ardoyne), Lurgan (Drumgask and Kilwilkie).
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