[Sinn Fein]

20th June 2002

Ferris calls for lifting of siege of Short Strand

Sinn Fein TD for Kerry North Martin Ferris today hosted a delegation of community workers, residents and public representatives from the Short Strand area of Belfast in a number of meetings in Dublin. The delegation was in Dublin to highlight the ongoing and sustained attacks that are taking place on their community by loyalists and the RUC/PSNI. Following a press conference at Buswells Hotel the delegation met with the Mayor of Dublin, Anthony Creevy, before going on to meet with representatives from the Departments of the Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs as well as Deputy Tom Parlon on behalf of the Tánaiste.

Speaking after the meetings Deputy Ferris expressed his satisfaction at the reception given to the delegation and said he believed that everybody had an onerous responsibility to ensure that the siege of the Short Strand was brought to an end immediately.

Deputy Ferris said: ``Having visited the Short Strand on Saturday last and having read the litany of attacks outlined in the briefing paper from the residents of the Short Strand I am in no doubt that this area is under siege. There is no other word to describe it. That it is happening in the second biggest city on this island in the 21st Century, four years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement is scandalous. Nationalists living in this area have been for almost five weeks and still are being denied access to basic services. They cannot go to their local Doctor's surgery. They cannot go to their local chemist. They cannot go to their local post office. And they cannot access their local college. This is unacceptable.

``There is a real and palpable sense of fear and intimidation. People's lives have been turned upside down. As one resident described it they are ``existing in the Short Strand not living''. It's like a prison with no roof.

``The Good Friday Agreement seeks to guarantee everybody the right to live free from fear and intimidation. For that to have any meaning at all the siege of the Short Strand must be ended. Those with ultimate responsibility for the situation on the ground, the British Government, must be forced into action.

``I am calling on politicians of all parties and none to work together to bring this intolerable situation to an end before there is loss of life.''

On the delegation were: Cllr Joe O'Donnell (SF); Patricia Johnson, (Senior Childcare worker); Mairead O'Donnell (Community Worker).

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