Spend in haste, repent at leisure centre…

NOT to get on Caitriona’s case too much, but does no-one in the Education Department see that there could be a connection between cuts here and consequences here – if not immediately, then further down the line? It may be belt-tightening time, but could funding after-schools clubs perhaps save the taxpayer money in the long term? And speaking of cuts, the penny may finally be dropping in Belfast City Council that it simply cannot continue to pour our rates into duplicating hideously expensive facilities across peace walls. “We have to move away from the if there is one in a unionist area, there has to be another in a nationalist area and vice versa,” said UUP councillor Bob Stoker in a city where the Shankill leisure centre is just a stone’s throw away (or a half-brick’s throw if it’s the summer) from the Falls one. Would it not be more sensible economically and financially to try and have one integrated unit, or is that still years off? Can we afford the expensive luxury of such bitter tribalism forever? After all, there is simply no need for 11 leisure centres in the size of a relatively piddly little city like Belfast. It might seem contrary to argue for continued funding for after-school clubs and cuts to leisure centres, but the latter facilities have cost £41m in five years. And that probably ain’t sustainable.

  • Crow

    Furthermore, there is simply no need for two countries in the size of a relatively piddly little island like Ireland.

    Sorry Gonzo, couldn’t resist ;->

  • willis

    Well maybe if the kids spent more time in school together they wouldn’t fight when they get out.

    To be honest, if you want to stop interface violence this sentence might be a hint.

    “However, there had been an Orange Parade in the lower Newtownards Road area earlier in the day. It passed off without incident but may have raised tensions in the interface area.”

  • kensei

    We have to move away from the if there is one in a unionist area, there has to be another in a nationalist area and vice versa

    I am sure all parties can agree on that.

    Ask them which leisure centres to shut, though….

  • elvis parker

    Crow’s right – letting the 26 counties leave the UK was a mistake and an unacceptably expensive one. In the age of globalisation it makes sense for the Republic to be reabsorbed back into the UK

  • DC

    Listen, product is the key to service provision success, the reality is that if you put a shared leisure centre in a contested area the product fails in the environment which it is placed.

    Therefore, a loss is a loss is a loss.

    Politics for a shared space requires the reconciling of two national consciences which can be overlapped in either context with securities maintained.

    Difficult to elaborate on that but untill someone does then shared space is but a new narrative away.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘letting the 26 counties leave the UK was a mistake’

    so granting the will of the people was a mistake.

    Tribalism is unfortunately a part of life in the north of Ireland. Belfast particularly so. I think looking to save money on reducing the number of lesiure centre is putting the cart before the horse.
    reduce the need for them first.

  • foreign correspondent

    Elvis is right:
    In the age of globalisation it makes sense for the EU to be a fully fledged country, where all its constituent parts take full part, joining the euro and Schengen, for example.

  • willis

    To ease ourselves slowly back to the original point.

    The second paragraph in the BBC report is the more significant.

    Primary schools

    Meanwhile, hundreds of primary school principals have called on the Northern Ireland Executive to overrule the education minister on this year’s budget.

    The principals want a large increase immediately and have complained that secondary schools get much more per pupil than they do.

    Harry Greer, head of Harmony Hill school, Lisburn, said Caitríona Ruane had not balanced funding as promised.

    “This year, despite her promises, she has widened that gap,” he said.

    The Department of Education has pointed to an extra £20m for education this year, 60% of which went to primary schools.

    However, the primary principals are calling on the executive to authorise an extra £800 every year for each pupil.

    Surely something we can all agree on.

  • Quizdaemon

    [i]Listen, product is the key to service provision success, the reality is that if you put a shared leisure centre in a contested area the product fails in the environment which it is placed.

    Therefore, a loss is a loss is a loss.

    Politics for a shared space requires the reconciling of two national consciences which can be overlapped in either context with securities maintained.

    Difficult to elaborate on that but untill someone does then shared space is but a new narrative away.

    Posted by DC on Apr 29, 2008 @ 10:56 AM[/i]

    What the hell was that? Do you even know what you wrote there or are you merely playing the poor mans David Ervine spouting shite you think sounds clever?

    The fact of the matter is people will wallow in tribal sectarianism for as long as the government allows it. A city the size of Belfast doesn’t need more than four leisure centres. If we where all allowed to mix more at a younger age a lot of the problems this country faces would dissapear. Unforunately a complete and proper peace doesn’t suit the Executive

  • DC

    Quiz – riddle me this:

    A service prodived depends on the nature of the product being offered, which will only thrive if it is accessible and indeed if it is of good quality. Quality of service provided will improve if shared, of course 2-into-1 means better economic baselines.

    There remains communal conflict out there, so I hardly see how accessibility can be addressed in order to pave the way for improved quality of service. If you want to close them then by all means it is worth consideration. A loss is a loss is a loss, which ever way you cut it.

    As republican stones suggests cart before horse is the key problem. It will not be immediate at all but disingenous sticks being used will neither replace the need for new political thought post-GFA98.

    But don’t lecture me about Ervine-speak whenever those that advocate a shared future are so far incapable of providing a vision that becomes a shared vision at a political leadership level. That is where questions remain over ability to deliver and approaches taken or lack of in trying to grow such a shared vision.

  • Aine

    DC
    I understand your sentiment. Whichever service you wish to choose as an example, be it education or leisure, integration will not survive in either case until there is integration within the communities in which people live. My children went to the closest local primary school (a choice most parents make as it makes sense not to drag children unnecessary distances to receive the same service), likewise they used the closest local leisure centre. The two examples are slightly out of sync since there are adequate educational facilities serving both sections of the community, however the problem lies in the fact that leisure facilities are not made available on the same scale. Perhaps this is due to the fact that educational facilities, especially where mandatory education is concerned, are sustainable in urban areas regardless of which side of the sectarian divide one belongs to, whereas leisure facilities cannot guarantee patrons, therefore cannot guarantee sustainable revenue.

    The sad reality of this situation is that where leisure facilities are not locally made available there undoubtedly is a section of the population who have to travel across the divide in order to access as locally as possible what others can, and if they do so they still have to accept the fact that they are venturing into ‘hostile’ territory. As such, until there is acceptance and tolerance we are going to have communities that are disadvantaged in this aspect. It is worth noting that one of the few powers that local councils maintained during the period of direct rule from Westminster was the siting of leisure facilities, and this appears to have been unashamedly abused. The example that springs immediately to mind is the nationalist community of North Belfast, who have gone without locally sited leisure facilities where their nearest facility is in Ballysillan (across the divide). The people of nationalist North Belfast have for decades been denied the right to local leisure facilities. Before any Unionists spout the rhetoric that Ballysillan Leisure Centre is there to cater for the whole of North Belfast, let me ask then why is it necessary to have one on the Shankill when the Falls can serve West Belfast?

    Willis
    “Well maybe if the kids spent more time in school together they wouldn’t fight when they get out.”

    As I said above, integration in schools is a lovely idea, but just not feasible when you have local schools catering for local children being the most practical option. Initiatives within schools such as EMU (DMU as it is now referred to) have some merit, but in my opinion not enough. Children are introduced to ‘the other side’ without adequately preparing the foundations; children who take part in these activities are completely unaware of their fundamental ‘differences’ aside from the knowledge that they will be engaging in activities with children who attend a different school. Much more groundwork has to be done in this area and the effort has to be sustained. Unfortunately, in my experience, and as a result of these factors EMU/DMU is a futile exercise and a waste of the educational budget, and will remain so until fundamental issues concerning the societal divisions we live with are addressed.