Strand funding snub

The Short Strand will not receive a single penny from a £388,000 grant to help improve deprived communities in inner-city East Belfast
News of the snub has sparked a furious response from local politicians and community workers.

During the next month £388,003 of Community Foundation cash will be issued to community projects in the Pottinger ward.

Although the Short Strand represents a large chunk of this area it will not benefit in any way from the cash injection.

A spokesman for the Department of Social Development, the office that decides which areas receive funding, said it used the Nobel Index of multiple-deprivation to decide which areas would receive grants.

He added that the DSD also listened to advice from the Community Foundation concerning areas in the Pottinger ward that have weak community infrastructure. According to the Community Foundation, the Short Strand does not fall into this category.

However, this explanation provoked a furious response from community workers in the Short Strand – an area listed as the fifth most economically and socially deprived district in the whole of the north.

"I'm in no way opposed to other communities in the Pottinger ward getting funds, but I want to know why the Short Strand was ignored," said local Sinn Féin councillor Joe O'Donnell.

"In terms of economic and social deprivation this area is among the worst in the north of Ireland. It is shocking that we have been overlooked. The Community Foundation, which provided the community infrastructure analysis to the DSD, needs to take a long and hard look at itself.

“It appears as if the Short Strand has been deprived funding for having a good community network."

Chairperson of the Short Strand Partnership, Patricia Johnston, said community workers in the area are convinced the Community Fund cash has been set aside solely for unionist areas.

"Short Strand residents are horrified people in administration had an input into how this funding was allocated. We'll be taking this matter up with the DSD."

No one from the Community Foundation was available for comment and the group referred all questions to the DSD. The four areas of inner-East Belfast to benefit from the £388,003 cash injection are Avoniel, the Mount, Willowfield and Ravenhill. In total there is £915,393 of funds being allocated throughout Belfast. Unionist areas are to receive more than £750,000 of this cash.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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