Shankill and Falls join forces over threatened youth cutbacks

West protestors confront ministers

By Ciara Quinn

HUNDREDS from West Belfast and the Shankill took to the steps of Stormont on Tuesday to protest against the loss of essential services and cuts to funding for a vital youth services umbrella group. Chief Executive of the West Belfast Partnership Board, Geraldine McAteer, told the Andersonstown News that she is expecting an offer to come through on future funding for   Integrated Services for Children and Young People before the end of the week.

“I know that the West Belfast and Greater Shankill communities are hoping for good news but I have no guarantee. We have been running an extremely successful programme for a number of years now and ISCYP staff have played a critical role in delivering high standards of support and intervention to the most vulnerable children and young people in our society,” she said

“We felt compelled to protest at the threat to funding for ISCYP and we have had no concrete answer as to what is going to happen to the programme. We only hope that any news will be good news.”

Local SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood, who attended Tuesday’s protest, said the fact that people from the Falls and Shankill had to protest was a poor reflection on the Executive at Stormont.

“Integrated Services has proven that there are better ways of delivering faster and more effective services to children and young people in West Belfast and Greater Shankill,” said Tim “The economic appraisal clearly shows that early intervention pays dividends. The relevant ministers from all parties have endorsed Integrated Services, yet the same ministers cannot find the funds to provide a long-term commitment to ISCYP. After the  protest, it is time the ministers committed to long-term support, it is the very minimum the families and young people deserve.”

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