Loyalists 'come to SF for aid'

Maeve Connolly
Irish News

Some people living in loyalist areas of Belfast are seeking help from
Sinn Féin advice centres, the party has claimed.

The claims follow a report which quotes a Sandy Row community worker
as saying that some residents went to Sinn Féin's advice centre on
the Falls Road ahead of offices belonging to unionist

When contacted yesterday (Thursday), the community worker distanced
himself from the remarks and said local people had no need to seek
Sinn Féin's assistance.

However, West Belfast Sinn Féin assembly member Fra McCann claimed
the party's Falls Road office was regularly contacted by Protestant
people from all over Belfast.

"I have dealt with quite a number of constituency complaints from the
Sandy Row area for over 20 years and I still do," he said.

Mr McCann said the Falls Road and Sandy Row had similar problems and
as an elected representative he served everyone.

"Housing conditions in Sandy Row are as bad as on the Falls Road.
People still need help with the DSS (Department of Social Services)
as they do on the Falls Road," he said.

"They are areas of social deprivation and the problems across the
board are no different – housing, roads, power and lighting among

The Falls Road advice centre has "a good reputation", according to Mr

"The constituency office is contacted by people from Glencairn,
Shankill and as far away as Antrim.

"We deal with a fair number on a weekly basis."

Mr McCann added that the majority of Protestant people contacted the
party by phone, although some also visited in person.

"They would appreciate that it is difficult for us to go into the
area, so a lot of work is done over the phone," Mr McCann said.

"Then when we do successfully deal with a complaint, by word of mouth
it gets about, it has a knock-on effect."

South Belfast UUP assembly member Michael McGimpsey has his
constituency office in Sandy Row and he was reported yesterday as
rejecting claims that residents went to Sinn Féin.

He said a high volume of people came to his office and were helped.

September 11, 2004

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