Hard work is now paying off at Finaghy crossroads

By Gráinne McWilliams

FINAGHY Crossroads Group (FCG) has been nominated for Co-Operation Ireland’s prestigious 2011 ‘Pride of Place’ awards. The cross-community group, which carries out vital work at the interface between South and West Belfast, was nominated by Belfast City Council for the ‘Community Enhancement Project’ section of the awards.

Judges from Co-Operation Ireland visited Belfast this week where the group’s community workers from both sides of the divide showed them around the Finaghy area.

FCG was established in 2004 by republicans and loyalist from either side of the crossroads to promote the safety of everyone who works, lives and socialises in an area that was once a flashpoint for sectarian violence.

FCG Joint Chair Harry Smith said the group was “delighted” to be nominated for the Pride of Place awards.

“I think it’s rather fitting that this group in particular has been nominated as we do a lot of work around creating a normal society in this area and have been quite successful in doing so,” said Harry.

“For us, this is a record of our achievement and gives us an opportunity to sell ourselves on what we do and what’s delivered in this area.”

“The group has been established for a number of years and we believe that we have made real progress to make Finaghy a safer and more inclusive place for the whole community,” said Joint Chair Gerry McConville.

“We’re very proud to be nominated for this award as it gives us a chance to showcase the work that goes on in and around the crossroads area.”

Donal Connolly, an adjudicator in the Pride of Place awards, said he was impressed by what he saw during his visit to Finaghy.

“The whole purpose of the competition is to acknowledge the excellent work that’s being done by community groups around the country, both North and South, in improving the quality of life of the people in their area,” he said.

“Clearly the FCG are an excellent example of a community working together and facing the difficulties that they do in Finaghy with two communities on either side of the road.

“They are clearly doing excellent work and that’s been seen this morning. They have made an excellent presentation, which we were very impressed by. It also shows that Belfast City Council has great confidence in FCG to represent the city in the Pride of Place awards.”

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