West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

£10,000 secured for Omagh Nightlife project

Published: 4 January, 2013

Omagh Town Sinn Féin Councillor Sorcha McAnespy announced that after a successful application about £10,000 had been secured from the Department of Justice to set up the volunteer or 'street angels' programme in the town .She was speaking after an emergency PCSP meeting in the town, which was called in the aftermath of the tragic incident where 19 Year old Jason Mc Govern lost his life.

Speaking afterwards she spoke of how everyone was committed to working together to 'Ensure that Omagh is a safe place to socialise'.

"We have been able to secure £10,000 from the Department of Justice for this programme. My party colleague, Cllr Sean Begley, who is Chair of the Omagh Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership has also been working hard to ensure that the partnership would match fund it and put in a place a co-ordinator to coordinate efforts to have street angels on the streets at night," she said.

"They'll be out and about the streets, looking out for the young people who have maybe had one or two too many to drink, or have lost their bearings and are not sure where their friends are.

"The Angels will all have first aid training and there will be a difibulator available to them. They'll be there to offer glasses of water, cups of tea and coffee, phones, if people are unable to contact their parents, or get lifts home, maybe arrange a taxi for them, possible offer suitable foot ware to girls unable to walk any longer in high heels.

"Just a wee safe haven so that people have somewhere to go."

Ms McAnespy said the volunteers would receive training in how to deal with persons under the influence of drink, and will be unobtrusive only wearing clothing to identify themselves rather than an intimidating uniform.

"A lot of people want to give back to society and they are maybe parents themselves, and have got an interest in ensuring things go well for the young people," she said.

"We have been working on this proposal for some time to address the sheer volume of young people who descend on our town at the weekend, this is not just a reaction to recent events but an assurance that we here in Omagh are taking a proactive approach to the Safety of all users of our town. This initiative should initially roll out for one year."

She said there was a "healthy night time economy" in Omagh,

"There are dozens of buses that come here every weekend from the nine counties of Ulster," she said.

"We have a huge number of young people descend upon our town and there are a relatively small number of incidents considering."

The councillor said that invites would be sent out to all the licence holders, hot food outlet owners, taxi companies for the next PCSP meeting.

In addition we plan to work alongside the GAA, Young Farmers Association, IFA and Rugby clubs we aim to inform and educate the young people about the dangers of excessive alcohol.

"We're all trying to work together to ensure Omagh is a safe place to socialise - everybody has got an interest in that," she added.