A Stormont department has reacted angrily to claims that it is ignoring the Taughmonagh area.
Last week the Community Telegraph reported that South Belfast MLA Michael McGimpsey had written to Social Development Minister Alex Attwood to clarify the “uncertain future” of Taughmonagh Community Forum.
The DSD was unavailable for comment but this week countered the forum’s claim that “Taughmonagh has fallen off the DSD map”.
The DSD said that over £330,000 had been used to support community development and capacity building in Taughmonagh between 2006 and 2010.
“It is simply not the case that Taughmonagh has fallen off the DSD map,” said a spokesperson.
“The evidence flatly contradicts this claim. It is utterly unhelpful to make claims that are not backed up by evidence. It is recognised that this money was well spent and effective in improving the quality of life and living environment in this pocket of deprivation.
“Two of the three funding programmes through which money was made available are now closed and no longer operating. The third — the Areas at Risk programme — was always planned as a two-year time-bound intervention or support programme.
“Phase two and three of the Areas at Risk programme are now focusing on other pockets of deprivation that deserve our support.”
Mr Attwood said: “I have demonstrated fully and unambiguously a commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal.
“But as things are now I regret that DSD, focusing on Neighbourhood Renewal and the 10 per cent most disadvantaged areas, has no funding programmes open to which this group might seek further funding.”
Keith Hamilton of Taughmonagh Community Forum said: “The term of falling off the map is clearly backed up and demonstrated by the DSD spokesperson. Their statement highlights that Taughmonagh and other communities with similar problems, once they have availed of Areas at Risk support for two years, are left behind.
“The evidence ... is that Taughmonagh will receive no support for the social developmental needs of its community in this financial year ... Taughmonagh actually owes as great a debt to nationalist politicians as unionist as the majority of its funding has been through joint lobbying and as an organisation it remains apolitical with no politicians involved with its boards or committees.
“I will be contacting all the politicians to be fair and be apolitical and seek to access additional support for a community which believes it requires support for its residents from the statutory sector.”