Economic Development in West Belfast

Part of Adjournment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 7:45 pm on 20th October 2009.

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Photo of Nelson McCausland Nelson McCausland DUP 7:45 pm, 20th October 2009

I do not disagree. The route to the Shankill Road along North Street to Peter’s Hill is very depressing, and the area between North Street and Donegall Street requires significant development. There is the potential to do something, and there is no disagreement about that. I was simply saying that if we are trying to draw people from the Cathedral Quarter, which will become more of tourist attraction because of developments such as the metropolitan arts centre and the new hotels, the link-up to the Shankill Road has real strategic significance.

I picked up on Jennifer McCann’s point about the young lady from the Shankill Women’s Centre. One of the big challenges is to provide educational support in those areas. I have visited the Shankill Women’s Centre on a number of occasions, as have my party colleagues, and I am familiar with the marvellous job that it does to bring young women who may have missed out on education back into it. Such women may not have the confidence to engage with education providers, so, in that way, the centre does a valuable job.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Impact Training in Lanark Way, which also addresses the needs of young people who have gone through school without gaining qualifications and little in the way of job or life skills. Therefore, I commend Joe Stewart and the folk at Impact Training for their good work with those young people. There is a particular need, they have particular skills, and they do a very good job.

In all those ways, it is important to ensure that young and older people in the area have the skills to get jobs in areas such as tourism, where there is potential for growth. We should also be broad-minded enough to recognise that not all jobs will be in the immediate area. However, if young people have the job skills, life skills and confidence to go out and get jobs, they will be willing to go to other parts of the city. It is important that we do what we can to develop employment in the area and to ensure that people have the skills to get jobs there and elsewhere.