Friday 20 October 2017 06:07:57 AM

Langley Road Community Association Head Straight To Crumlin Jail
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A visit to a gaol can be a daunting experience at the best of times, but Langley Road Community Association were looking forward to their experience behind the walls of one of the most historic prisons in Britain and Ireland.

Members of Langley Road Community Association saw life ‘on the inside’ last Saturday (December 7) with a study visit to the historic Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast.

Facilitated by the EU PEACE III funded Building Relationships in Communities (BRIC) Programme, the outing took members of the local community association on a fascinating tour of the Victorian prison where they heard about the history of the building once dubbed ‘Europe’s Alcatraz.’

The Langley Road Residents Association outside Crumlin Gaol.

The Langley Road Residents Association outside Crumlin Gaol.

As well as learning about some of the prison’s most well-known inmates including Eamon De Valera, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, the group were able to sit in the Governor’s chair, view the prisoners’ quarters and pay a visit to the condemned man’s cell before entering the infamous execution chamber.

The visit was made possible by the BRIC Programme as part of its overall goal of cultivating good relations in communities across Northern Ireland and is just one of a series of over 80 bric initiatives aimed at building understanding and relationships in a variety of locations in the province.

Speaking at the event, Andrew Steenson, Chairperson of Langley Road Community Association said: “This visit has been a real learning experience for the group and we want to thank the bric Programme and Housing Executive for making it possible.

“Langley Road Community Association has benefited greatly from the bric Programme over the last few years and we look forward to continuing working with it in the New Year.”

DUP Councillor Billy Walker who attended the visit said: ” I was invited as a councillor and I was very impressed with the visit. This was an enjoyable day and I’d like to thank Raj Thompson NIHE Good Relations Officer for the experience which everyone really got a lot from.

“The group was split in two smaller groups while one half alternatively visited the gaol and the other half visited the Springfield Road looking at some key community issues. They looked also at some of the BRIC murals that were done.

“The DUP invited the Langley group to participate in this cultural programme and it was really worthwhile.”

Kerry McIvor, BRIC Programme Manager, added: “The BRIC Programme has enjoyed working closely with Langley Road Community Association in recent years.

“During this time we have been able to provide the Association with training, mentoring and trips such as this and we are thrilled to see the hugely positive impact the programme has had on the group.

“Hopefully this visit will prove educational, entertaining and insightful for the group and further their progress within the BRIC Programme.

“Through our working partnership with the Housing Executive, the BRIC programme is active throughout Northern Ireland and works to enhance community relations, improve the environment of local areas, and benefit local residents.”

Raj Thompson, Housing Executive Good Relations Officer, said: “The Housing Executive is delighted to be associated with the BRIC programme and the invaluable work it does to help empower local residents as they work achieve their goals of creating neighbourliness and inclusiveness in all aspects of community life.

“Study and educational visits like this are just one essential element of the Programme and offer participants a fascinating insight into our shared history and the lessons that can be learned from it.”

Following their tour of the prison, members of the Community Association then made their way to the Springfield Road in Belfast where they visited a BRIC programme re-imaging project at Sliabh Dubh.