Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, thanked the Butts community and the Fr. McGrath Centre for the warm welcome he received and his tour last week of the community education programme for children run by Kilkenny volunteers.
The meeting was organised by Sinn Fein candidates in the local elections, Kathleen Function, daughter of the well known and retired SIPTU officer, Phil.
Gerry said that the innovation, social enterprise and community commitment to not stand by quietly when their children and neighbours needed support was an inspiration to any community struggling with the same issues as families in the Butts estate.
He complemented community leaders and volunteer tutors for their long sightedness in their area action plan –‘From Three –To University’ where they stressed the importance of engaging children from their earliest years with literacy and numeracy support to help keep them up with their class mates.
He invited Butts children and community leaders to visit his home community Ballymurphy and their community centre in West Belfast where his neighbours are facing the same struggles as many other Irish families.
He also offered to arrange a visit to the Northern Assembly in Stormont for children and leaders if they came to visit.
Commenting on the many changes he has witnessed in the North in the last ten years Gerry said that children in his community have never seen a British soldier on their street and that was a major positive for their community who are struggling with the exact same problems as Butts families who are worrying about getting their children educated, off the streets and trying to find jobs in areas of very high unemployment.
Pat Brennan, Chairperson of the Centre, thanked Gerry for the invitation and said that they would welcome an opportunity to bring local children to Belfast and help break down some of the barriers created between Irish communities by partition and some of the misconceptions and fears some people in the south still have about visiting the northern counties.
He also thanked Gerry and the leadership of Sinn Fein for the personal risks they took in helping to find a settlement of the northern issue and bringing peace to the island.
Pic captions – Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and Kathleen Function members of the Fr. McGrath Centre on their recent visit to the Butts community L-R Wendy Taylor Community Development worker, Vera Dowling, FAS Assistant Supervisor, Maura Clifford FAS C.E. worker.
Pic 2 – Minister for Children Barry Andrews with parents, children and staff of the Fr. McGrath Centre on his visit to discuss their community area action plan –‘From Three –To University’ L-R included in picture are Minister Mcguiness, Mary White TD and local councillors etc…