Belfast City Council’s decision to allocate upwards of £200,000 to ‘bonfire diversionary projects’ has been criticised as little more than a sectarian carve up coming at a time when the city needs serious and sustained investment in health and well being projects, in jobs and in its young people.
“It is appalling that as we come to terms with the news of ten drug related deaths over the Christmas period, an increasing reliance of food banks, rising fuel poverty and some of the highest levels of social deprivation that public money is squandered in this manner”, Workers Party representative Joanne Lowry said.
“It beggars belief that with all these problems on our doorstep that some city councillors can turn a blind eye to the levels of human misery that exist locally in favour of a rave in the Falls Park and a big night out in Woodvale”, she said
“People in West Belfast have the lowest life expectancy in Northern Ireland, 34% of local children live in poverty or in low income families, more than 40% of houses are in fuel poverty meaning that people can’t afford to heat them and the number of local people suffering with mental health problems is up to three times higher than in other areas”, Joanne said.
“Add to that the problems of homelessness, addiction and low educational attainment and the very idea that these should take second place to a rave and a concert is deeply offensive”, Joanne added.
“The promise of Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey to build a “…healthy, harmonious and prosperous society” will mean nothing to people facing hardship and hopelessness when they see the resources that could have made a difference to their lives, and the lives of their children, frittered away on a musical one night stand”.
” People might say that these councillors have got heir priorities wrong: but have they? Quite clearly ordinary people, their prospects and their quality of life were never their priority in the first place”, concluded Joanne