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Margaret Ritchie holds public forum in Coleraine

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie MLA, last night held a public forum in Coleraine on developing a shared future for Northern Ireland.

A key objective for the Minister is building united communities. The Minister wants the public's help in shaping the policies which will help communities live together rather than apart. The public forum in Coleraine was one in a series, she is holding across Northern Ireland.

Speaking after the forum, Margaret Ritchie said: "I would like to thank the people of Coleraine for coming out last night. I would also like to thank them for their important and helpful contribution which has given me much food for thought.

"I want to see how we can break the cycle of segregation. That was why I came to Coleraine to hear views and examples of how we build a shared society in Northern Ireland. Guns now remain largely silent. Political institutions are up and running. You would think that our society could now move on. And yet we have moved on very little.

"We live apart, we are educated apart, we largely socialise and recreate apart. And to me that’s not normal. If we do nothing then that cycle of segregation will continue from this generation to the next. As Minister for Social Development, I can help break this cycle in both housing and urban regeneration. I can also help by starting the discussion that we all know needs to take place."

Margaret Ritchie concluded: "Essentially, the public forum was about a conversation with the people of Coleraine about practical steps toward developing the society we want to see."

Notes to editors:

  1. The Minister's Public Forum in Coleraine, which took place in the Lodge Hotel, is one of a series of Public Forums she is holding across Northern Ireland.
  2. Media enquiries to Simon Stuart, DSD Information Office on 028 9082 9468 or mobile 07920 186639. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.