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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Grant removed over police remarks
The controversial booklet
The government said public funding was 'inappropriate'
The government has withdrawn 10,000 of funding from a west Belfast community group because of comments about the police in an anti-racism booklet.

Minister John Spellar had approved the grant to the Falls Community Council in February to help produce a welcome pack for migrant workers and asylum seekers.

The leaflet described the PSNI as "an extension of the British state" and said the service had "no support".

The government said public money for the project was "inappropriate".

In a letter sent on Thursday, an official of the Good Relations and Reconciliation Division of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister said it was "not in the public interest that potentially vulnerable members of society should be discouraged from seeking police assistance".

We say that it is not advisable to go to a PSNI station alone - I think that is very good advice for people from ethnic minorities
Sara Boyce
West Against Racism Network

In the West Against Racism Network booklet, readers are advised not to call the police unless it is a "necessity" such as for insurance purposes, and not to answer questions about neighbours.

The government emphasised that the use of the department's name and logo in the booklet was "wholly unauthorised" .

It said that it "improperly gave the impression that the department approved its content in relation to the PSNI".

'Policing vacuum'

In response, the Falls Community Council said it was "disappointing that this genuine attempt to tackle the growing problem of racism has been undermined".

The council said in a statement that it had been awaiting feedback from the department and would ask it to reconsider the decision.

Sara Boyce of the West Against Racism Network said the extract from the booklet had been misrepresented.

"You are not talking about a normalised society anywhere in the north of Ireland, but most of all west Belfast.

"We talk about the policing vacuum in west Belfast, we feel that we have to give people information and advice - obviously it is up to people themselves to decide what they want to do.

"Nowhere in the booklet do we say you should not go to the PSNI," she told BBC News on Friday.

"We say that it is not advisable to go to a PSNI station alone - I think that is very good advice for people from ethnic minorities."

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