Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Provo or Gerry Dome

After British, Irish and other EU 'peace funding' thought to have amounted to around €3bn in the two decades since the paramilitary 'ceasefires', after 30 years of Sinn Fein holding political power, west Belfast has little to show by way of economic advancement. Sinn Fein blames the high unemployment, addiction and teenage pregnancy rates of recent years on 'Tory cuts', sidelining its own culpability as a holder of power in the devolved Stormont government. West Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir is the North's Finance Minister.

The constituency consistently ranks in the bottom two or three of the 650 UK parliamentary constituencies on social and economic measurements. Andersonstown is a traditional Sinn Fein heartland but in recent elections the party's vote in west Belfast has dropped with the local People Before Profit party picking up 7,000 of its votes. The Sinn Fein hegemony in west Belfast is not under immediate threat but the decline in its vote is attributable to the party's failure to improve conditions in its longest-held constituency.

The proposed development of Casement Park has been opposed by both local residents and the emergency services, who have voiced safety concerns and it has been described as a vanity project. The proposed £77m (€90m) expansion of Casement Park into a 40,000-seater 'world-class' sporting and concert venue has been called the "Provo Dome" or "Gerry Dome", in the face of local opposition. Many people see Sinn Fein's promotion of the stadium as misplaced and grandiose in an area that, for the most part, is so severely blighted by poverty and social deprivation.

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