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Junior Minister's Speech- Launch Of A Report On The Work And Findings Of The Hazelwood Community Partnership And Youth Providers Forum 14th October 2010

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I too want to thank you for the opportunity to join with you in this very notable event to launch these reports.

I recognise and value the very positive work being taken forward by everyone in the Hazelwood Community Partnership who is involved in the concept, design and development of the reports.

You are all to be greatly commended.

OFMDFM has responsibility for promoting good relations and tackling poverty both across and within communities in North Belfast and we are committed to doing so with the aim of making it a safe, secure and prosperous place to live and work for everyone.

It is essential that all communities, particularly those most affected by social and economic deprivation, benefit from developments in the peace process.

It will also require a new approach from communities working together on areas of common concern, as exemplified by the current North Belfast Good Relations Programme, to lead to economic and social renewal. This new approach needs to be adequately resourced and communities must be facilitated to work together for the good of all.

The success of communities here in North Belfast prospering, relies on recognition that the destinies of all our communities are interdependent.

Together we need to address the underlying causes of segregation and conflict which includes socio and economic disadvantage.

The information and detail of these twin reports will give definition and targets that can address these disadvantages in a timely and realistic manner.

Last summer in North Belfast we and the rest of the world witnessed the violent manifestation of generations of mistrust and suspicion.

The images broadcast around the world cost more than the millions of pounds worth of damage – they also cost the improving reputation of this part of our shared city dearly.

It is a shame that there is not going to be the same media coverage of today’s events showing the working together of two reputedly irrevocably polarized communities to find a mutual solution to their shared problems.

That it the real triumph today - and the world should be told.

Peace walls are still a matter of daily life for North Belfast – walls that can provide a sense of security - but in reality all they do is divide a people who desperately need to unite and organize to combat the problems that cause so much harm to this community.

These reports are a symbol of not only what is possible but what is absolutely necessary for this area that is stagnating in separation.

And as far as you have come today, I am proud to remind you that you are not alone.

Our Department is currently consulting on a draft Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration, and I would strongly encourage everyone to avail of the opportunity to have their say by contributing to the public consultation before it closes on 29 October.

This draft CSI Programme sets out a vision for a new era here: one in which we all work together to build a shared and better future, a future where fairness, equality, rights, responsibilities and respect are acknowledged and accepted by all.

None of the manifestations of sectarianism and racism in our society can be tackled by any one Department or Agency. Consequently, the CSI Programme will seek to ensure closer alignment of focus and resources to ensure that issues are addressed in a more strategic, coherent way.

The CSI Programme also supports a partnership ethos within and between communities. It aims to provide a framework for the development of more innovative and creative ways of working which encourage communities to effectively and efficiently work together in partnership with each other, with Government, and with the private sector. 

With full participation in that programme and the action points coming out off your reports we can start to map our way to a happier, more open and vibrant North Belfast, thank you.

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