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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 October, 2004, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
New site for Chinese centre
Anna Lo
Anna Lo said the centre would not just be for Chinese people
Belfast councillors have voted to offer an alternative site for a Chinese community centre following objections from local residents.

The Chinese Welfare Association received 233,000 in lottery funding to build a new centre in the Donegall Pass area, incorporating a 12-place nursery.

However, the association said it had been made aware of threats over the plans.

On Tuesday, Belfast City Council's Client Services Committee decided to offer the association a council-owned site at Cadogan Street, on the Ormeau Embankment.

That decision is subject to approval by the full council.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chinese Welfare Association Chief Executive Anna Lo said it was the fourth time that plans for such a centre had come under fire.

"When are we going to be accepted? We have a third generation now, being born and brought up here," she said.

"We have stuck with the wider community throughout the Troubles, and now when peace comes, we are being kicked around.

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson
Councillor Ruth Patterson said Protestants had concerns about culture

"We are being told we are not allowed to build here and there, because this is their place and we are not allowed to go in."

Last March, loyalist paramilitaries were suspected of being behind racist leaflets circulated in the Donegall Pass area.

The leaflet claimed that the number of Chinese people living and working in the area "undermines the community's Britishness".

Ms Lo said she hoped the centre planned by her association would accommodate staff and services, including a luncheon club for elderly Chinese people, on one single site.

She said the centre would not be exclusively for the use of the Chinese community.

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson, who liaised between ethnic minorities and local residents, said the Protestant community in Donegall Pass had "grave concerns about their culture, their identity and way of life being slowly taken away from them".

Ms Patterson said she personally believed a Chinese centre would not diminish loyalist culture.

However, she added: "When you live in Donegall Pass with all the problems in that area on your doorstep, it's a very different matter."

Ulster Unionist assembly member Michael McGimpsey said only a small number of people were opposed to the community centre.

He said the majority of people in the area were not opposed and that it was unfortunate they were being maligned.

BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro:
"The association said it had been made aware of threats over the plans"

Loyalist link to racist leaflets
12 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland
Lottery boost for health projects
25 May 04  |  Northern Ireland
Lottery cash for island sports
18 Jun 04  |  Northern Ireland
Sports cash for deprived areas
30 Jun 04  |  Northern Ireland

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