There was another reason to celebrate the festive season in south Belfast this week as cross community organisation, the Finaghy Crossroads Group (FCG), officially opened its new community offices and outreach facilities.
Representatives, grassroots workers and stakeholders from both communities, as well as local residents, turned out to celebrate the opening, which was marked by a Christmas lights switch-on, festive carols performed by the pupils of Cranmore Primary School and a Christmas party.
Based in Finaghy Road North, the facility will not only serve as a base for the work of the FCG, but will also provide outreach training facilities for the area’s different age groups and other community associations based throughout Belfast.
Speaking at the opening, FCG joint chairperson Brian McCrory, said: “The FCG is republicans and nationalists, unionist and loyalists working closely and in partnership with a common cause — the creation of a safer Finaghy Crossroads.
“Unfortunately, this area has a significant sectarian problem which residents from both communities believed would eventually lead to Finaghy Crossroads becoming a fully-fledged sectarian interface.
“It became apparent that policing alone could not address this, leading both communities to enter into a dialogue with each other to create a safer Finaghy for everyone. These talks eventually led to the development of the FCG.”
“I’d like to give thanks to the people who fund our work, particularly that of the McNaughton Foundation and the International Fund for Ireland, as we would not be there without them,” said fellow joint chairperson, Harry Smith.
“FCG will be carrying out a realistic, meaningful pro
gramme of work which will impact on every aspect of society in the Finaghy area. We would also like to thank the Irish President, Mary McAleese, and her husband Martin, who both couldn’t make it tonight, for their encouragement, support and personal interest in our project which is warmly welcomed.”
Speaking at the launch, Balmoral Sinn Féin representative and FCG board member Vincent Parker said: “I would congratulate the FCG on their hard work throughout the year.
“The fact that they are now in a position to officially open an office in the area is a testament to their hard work. The opening of this office also ensures that the work of the Finaghy Crossroads Group will continue in the future.”