ELECTION ’22 – West Belfast: Handball champion Aisling in a brand new ball game

SINN Féins Aisling Reilly took over as MLA for West Belfast back in October, replacing the longtime Fra McCann.

Now facing her first choice ever as she sat down with Andersonstown News, the former world handball champion described how she sees this as an opportunity to give back to the community she loves.

Last month, Aisling successfully introduced legislation in the assembly to scrap parking fees for hospital cars. Something she is especially proud of.

“In a past life I have been an athlete and fully supported by the people of West Belfast and even though I still play, I feel it is kind of my time to give back to the people who have given so much to me in the form of that support, ”she said.

Her immediate vision for West Belfast, she added, and especially in the Upper Springfield area, is to see a state-of-the-art, convenient leisure center built on top of Whiterock Road.

“We see it in the Brook Leisure Center, in Andersonstown and Falls. I think we need something similar here – it would be a flagship, especially with the new houses being developed at the top of the Monagh Bypass.

“We at Sinn Féin are about building houses, building communities where people can really grow, and families can raise their children in safe communities and bring back what I see when I walk into Turf Lodge and Dermott Hill, where they still have strong, close links.communities, and where we have also seen proposals for access to the hills where we really want to open up the Black Mountain.

“My vision is a West Belfast that people are proud of and proud to come from, proud to visit, proud to raise their families and proud to say they are from West Belfast because I am certainly proud. of West Belfast. ”

While Sinn Féin has been the dominant party in West Belfast for more than 20 years, the historical levels of child poverty and the waiting list for housing are still some of the highest on these islands. Asked how her party plans to tackle it, Aisling said they are entering this election to win as many seats as possible and hopefully return as the largest party to create change.

“We want back and we want the lead in the assembly and we want to work with other parties as well.

“Of course we want more ministers and we want to prioritize health, in which we want to invest a billion extra. We want to create more jobs, more doctors, more nurses.

“We want to tackle unemployment by bringing more jobs to the area, and we have seen this recently where Ortus has brought more jobs to this area. We also want to see more companies open in the area and more stores that will get several approaches.

“Yes, we will lead, but we do not take anything for granted, and the end result of the election is up to the people.”

Aisling added that since she was co-opted in October, she has learned a lot from the legislation that has been passed.

“I have personally seen what we can do when parties meet and work together. We saw it with the adoption of Daíthí’s law.

“To bring forward legislation to scrap parking fees at hospitals and take it over from Fra [McCann] was a great learning curve for me.

“But it also showed me that what needs to be used to make legislation, and if I get elected, I hope to put forward more pieces of legislation to improve people’s lives.”

On the issue of the quality of the available social housing stock, Aisling pointed to the report by Sinn Féin Communities Minister Dierdre Hargey, who announced an overhaul of the sector.

Dierdre Hargey and Carál [Ní Chuilín] before her undertook to carry out the largest overhaul of the Director of Housing in 50 years.

“There are now schemes in place to help make the housing stock more habitable and keep the heat in.

“We need housing for people who are comfortable, but we also want to build more homes for people who can handle these waiting lists.”

The 2022 parliamentary elections will take place on 5 May. People have until midnight tonight (Thursday) to register to vote.

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