'Solutions' to deprivation sought
Some deprived communities in Northern Ireland have gaping holes at their hearts, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said.
He claimed the different limbs of government were not working closely enough together to arrest the decline in parts of Belfast and Ballymena, Co Antrim. Unemployment, crime levels and derelict housing are among problems the minister identified.
The DUP Stormont MLA said everybody should work together to make improvements.
"I have seen for myself the boarded-up houses and blocks of flats, the unsightly graffiti, the empty space where a house once stood and now, thanks to an attitude that these areas could simply be forgotten, here are a series of communities with real issues."
He added: "These are the issues of communities with a gaping hole in their sense of identity, their sense of pride, their very heart."
He gave the keynote address at a seminar for those involved in his department's Building Successful Communities programme, launched in October 2013 to use housing as one of the main catalysts for local regeneration.
Six pilot areas include:
:: Lower Falls.
:: Lower Shankill and Brown Square.
:: Lower Oldpark and Hillview.
:: Tigers Bay and Mountcollyer.
:: Lenadoon and Glencolin.
:: Doury Road, Ballymena.
Mr McCausland added: "Through the programme I want to see a collaborative approach adopted by all of my Department's business areas with support from the Housing Executive, housing associations, local communities and key statutory and voluntary agencies.
"Each area is different from the other and will require different solutions but working together is the key to successful regeneration."