16 July 1998 Edition

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Fury at negative video

The West Belfast-based Foundry Regeneration Trust has blasted a promotional video made by the University of Ulster to gain investment for North and West Belfast for projecting ``false stereotypes'' of the areas and its people.

The video, Bridging the Divide, is primarily for circulation in the USA and opens with a shot of a derelict landscape in the west of the city. The Trust condemned this negative imagery and objected to the derogatory narrative which refers to the populace as an ``educational underclass.''

The social deprivation of these areas is portrayed as being the fault of the residents alone. The war in the Six Counties and the culpability of successive British administrations is ignored. Instead the alleged ``mental barriers'' of the local people and the inference that they are content to be dependent on state welfare are declared to be the causes of the economic destitution.

The video also claims that the proposed Springvale campus in West Belfast will deliver engineering and hi-tech courses; in reality the campus will provide classes in the service industries, hairdressing and catering, which are, generally speaking, lower paid occupations with poorer working conditions.

The Trust has called on the University of Ulster to withdraw this video and produce a more accurate version which reflects the real reasons and socio-economic factors in these parts of the city.

One of the largest employers in West Belfast, the Black Taxi Association, which was founded by local people, doesn't even get a mention nor does the work of the West Belfast Festival. Both groups have had a positive effect on the area yet the video makers were content to focus on the negative image to the detriment of any postive view of the area.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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