IRSP North Belfast Applaud New Lodge Youth
Over the past number of months the IRSP in North Belfast have been engaging with local young people who have been involved in the annual New Lodge anti-internment bonfire. The annual event has unfortunately become a hive of so called ‘anti-social activity’ that has inevitably led to conflicts between the youth and the local community.
Following close dialogue between local IRSP activists, the youth and the residents it became apparent that the young people were willing to listen and work on alternatives. This required setting up a group in which the young people could express themselves in an organised and constructive fashion. With assistance from the IRSP and the ex-prisoners group Teach Na Failte the young people set up the Youth Engagement Scheme (Y.E.S).
In return for not building the bonfire the young people through Y.E.S requested tickets and transport to the Féile an Phobail organised Planet Love and assurances that they would not be discriminated against at the event. Thankfully the ticket allocation was approved by Féile an Phobail and they listened to the youths concerns and responded in a positive manner and were able to give assurances.
The New Lodge Internment bonfire has been a constant negative issue that causes concern amongst local residents of the New Lodge on an annual basis. The IRSP support the highlighting of Internment in Ireland and while we commend the youth for trying we believe a bonfire & rave is not the correct way to commemorate Internment. Understanding this the youth have shown a keen interest in trying to come up with a long term, constructive alternative for the area to remember Internment and its impact.
Once again we would like to take this opportunity to thank the local residents in their support during this process but more importantly we would like to thank the young people for the manner in which they engaged themselves. It is the youth that deserve all the credit for this positive news, as they are the ones that took the vital decisions not to build the bonfire after listening and understanding local residents concerns.
We hope the local community can continue to recognise Y.E.S and understand that this is only the beginning of this scheme. When in dialogue with the young people involved in Y.E.S it became evident that they felt a certain level of discrimination against them, they complained that they had nothing to do and felt excluded from the community. Through Y.E.S they hope they can now have a voice in the local community and they can have a say in decisions that affect them and their community.
These young people are victims of the society they live in. The New Lodge suffers from extremely high levels of child poverty and social deprivation. The issues that face this community is not the young people’s fault, they suffer the same issues on a daily basis. We must ensure that positive results like this are built on in order to create a constructive and organised community that together can try and tackle the problems that face this community. The young people are the future of this district and we must ensure that they feel part of it in order to create a brighter future for everyone.