Need for play areas-Michael Long

It appears that my promise to continue to campaign on the issues of play areas and football pitches, as well as highlighting the DUP’s poor record on these issues, has touched a raw nerve with Mrs Iris Robinson.

Rather than constructing a positive defence of her record on these issues, Mrs Robinson ignores these and the facts that I presented, and instead indulges in a number of vicious personal attacks upon myself and my Party. When one considers the DUP record on these areas it is no surprise that Mrs Robinson tries to divert attention away from the real issues.

On the issue of play areas, Ballybeen residents had non play facilities for over a decade and one facility has now appeared after Alliance pressure was brought to bear. With regards to football pitch provisions, the rapid disappearance of pitches under the DUP has led to the Dundonald Football Forum to ask for a meeting with Tony Blair to discuss the crisis! I have welcomed any improvements that have occurred but also realise that the play area problem would have been reduced if the DUP had not voted against an Alliance proposal 2 years ago-another point that Mrs Robinson chooses to ignore.

I will not reply to Mrs Robinson’s personal attacks on myself as I prefer to deal with the facts, but I must take issues on her description of me as a “couch potato”. I am sure that many people who have been helped by our Party would beg to differ. Alliance continually works on the ground using surveys and focus leaflets. Many people have thanked us for our recent stand on play facilities and football pitches, as well as our work in organising public meetings on traffic calming in Ballybeen, and a petition aimed at improving access to the Old Mill development.

In conclusion, I regard the provision of adequate play facilities for the children of our Borough and good football pitch provision as anything but an ‘unimaginative policy’, and I will continue to highlight any deficiencies in these areas when I feel it is required.


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