Eat yourself healthy with nutritionist Jane McLenaghan

Are you sick of eating greasy bags of chips or microwave meals from a plastic tray?  Maybe you're trying to make a healthy change in your life and need some info on how to start eating better?

Whatever you need, nutritionist Jane McLenaghan wants to help you maintain an optimal balance of health and wellness - no fad diets, crazy quick fixes or extreme diet makeovers - instead, you'll make practical, positive changes to help you eat well and feel better.

The event is 100% free and completely open, with no need to book a spot - just turn up!  We'll see you on December 12th at 10:00AM in the Hammer Community Centre.


Press Statement: Children and Young People Zone


Shankill political and community leaders have welcomed the backing of five Government Ministers for the Greater Shankill Children & Young People Zone, which will transform the lives of one generation of Shankill children.

The Zone, which was designated by the Shankill’s Community Convention on Tuesday, received wholehearted Government endorsement, at a high level meeting in the historic Committee Room 21, in Parliament Buildings, where the first Northern Ireland Executive met.

Education Minister John O’Dowd described the Zone as “inspirational” and pledged to “play my part in supporting your work” to enhance the life chances of Shankill’s children and young people.

Minister of Social Development Nelson McCausland said, "My officials will work with the local community and their representatives to assist them in the development and delivery of plans for the Children & Young People Zone."

In an unprecedented move three other Government Ministers, David Ford, Caral Ni Chuilin and Edwin Poots also pledged their support.

“This is a red letter day for the Shankill” said the area’s M.P. Nigel Dodds.  To have one Government Department backing the Zone would be good; to have five is unprecedented and very, very welcome.  From this base we can move forward”.

Illustrating across-the-board support among Shankill politicians for the Zone, Councillor Billy Hutchinson stated, “this community has worked for this for two decades and it will take twenty years to realize its full impact.  This is not a quick fix, it is a generational approach and that is what is needed”.

Jackie Redpath for the Shankill’s Agreed Agenda Group said, “today we have opened the door on a generation of opportunity for this generation of our children and grand-children.  We have declared Shankill unlimited open for business”.


Blog: Thanks Hughie!

Hugh Smyth

I count it a privilege to have worked with the late Hugh Smyth, O.B.E. for over four decades on the Shankill: him as the politician and me as a community worker.

The working relationship went back to the early days of redevelopment in the 1970’s, when Hughie was first elected a Shankill Councillor and held a critically important post in City Hall on the Town Planning Committee, a position he maintained for decades.  From there, Hugh could block, cajole and negotiate every plan produced, as he would have said, “to rape and plunder” the Shankill.  And that epitomised Hughie’s political career:  at its heart, and from his heart, but always using his head, he fought the Shankill’s corner and never gave up.

Hugh was a sharp political operator, in the best sense of the word, but was at his very sharpest with his ready and at times acerbic wit; feared by his political opponents but which often diffused tense negotiations and confrontations.  I once heard Gerry Adams publicly recognise Hughie’s witty interventions as vital in relieving tension during critical moments in the negotiations on the Good Friday Agreement.  As Lord Mayor in 1994/1995 he invited the Lord Mayor of Dublin on a first official visit to Belfast – a big symbolic act at the time.  On arriving in City Hall, Sean “Dublin Bay” Loftus (Green Party), by way of breaking the formality on meeting Hughie, referred to Down winning the all Ireland Gaelic final the day before and said, “I see we sent Sam Maguire up North yesterday”. Quick as a flash Hughie retorted “about time yez extradited somebody”! Nobody ever knew whether he was serious or not!

I believe he was unrivalled by any politicians for his wit and anecdotes.  They were legion and the legend will grow!

But if Hughie was Shankill through and through, and he was, he was also always able to see the big picture and the big opportunity beyond the Road.  He loved Belfast and led support for projects like the Waterfront Hall, back in the day when they were risky.  It was Hughie who brought back from a visit to Baltimore, a vision of a waterfront development that became Laganside.  He linked Belfast, as a sister city, with Nashville back in 1994 (he loved an aul chant and was a great crooner, especially country and western). This week, when the present Lord Mayor made Boston a sister city, he was building on ground-breaking visits to Boston by Hugh Smyth and the Lord Mayor of Dublin, way back in 1995.  Back then Hugh Smyth regularly broke the mould of Unionists and remodelled it right into the heart of the capital of Irish America.  He had no fear and was never overawed in doing this:  he was a pathfinder for all the Unionists who were to follow the White House trail.

However, I believe Hughie was proudest of his representation of working-class issues.  He formed the original working class opposition to the Unionist “fur coat brigade” in Belfast Corporation along with Gerry Fitt and Paddy Devlin back in the 1970’s  (he was close to Devlin and learned much of the art of politics from him). Hugh was the epitome of what David Ervine described as the “innate working-classism” in the P.U.P. – a Party Hughie helped form but which he pre-dated as an Independent.

Hugh Smyth was in that lineage of "independents" and working-class representatives sent to City Hall and Stormont from the Shankill – Nixon, Henderson, Boyd, McQuade and Smyth!  From the start he ran a daily advice centre, now called surgeries, in small dingy back offices for decades, with nothing more than a pen, a scrap of paper to scribble down constituents’ names and details and a phone which he used to great effect to resolve people’s problems.

Hugh Smyth’s achievements were not only party political but he was a founder member and served on many community projects such as The Greater Shankill Development Agency, Shankill Community Projects, Argyle Business Centre, Greater Shankill Partnership and of course his beloved Rangers Social Club.    He saw opportunities early and when Making Belfast Work was launched as the “West Belfast Initiative”, Hughie secured a Shankill focus in it right away, declaring “poverty know no religion”.  He was a True Blue and Orangeman but able to reach out to the other side.  Fitting then his funeral will be from West Belfast Orange Hall AND St. Anne’s Cathedral.  They say a sign of greatness is that a man “can straddle both sides at once” – even in death Hugh Smyth will do that.

The Shankill was lucky to have Hughie Smyth.  I was lucky to know and work with him.  He created the “space” for people in which to do constructive work and he gave them political cover.  The term “progressive” was invented for him.  We won’t see his like again and he will be missed, but not forgotten.