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The Ballybeen housing estate

Ballybeen is the second largest housing estate in Northern Ireland with a population exceeding 8500.  It covers three electoral wards – Enler, Carrowreagh and Grahamsbridge.  The noble figures for Enler reflect the significant nature of problems experienced in Ballybeen.  It ranks 123 out of 566 in Northern Ireland terms and is within the 15% of worst wards in relation to the health, education and child poverty domains.  The area is poorly serviced in terms of statutory provision and has been affected by the polarisation that has occurred as a result of the troubles and has a strong single identity protestant culture. 

BWC from above

Castlereagh economic partnership ‘a review of the local economy 1998’ found that the most deprived wards in Ballybeen distinctly lacked employment opportunities in professional occupations with the majority of the employed population being in semi skilled/manual occupations.  The statistics for female unemployment relate only to those women who are registered as unemployed and looking for work.  The true figure for female unemployment is believed to be significantly higher as government statistics do not take account of unemployed female spouses/partners of unemployed males.  Areas of high unemployment are also those where population has limited formal qualifications.  Statistics show that over 80% of those unemployed and living in Carrowreagh, Enler and Grahamsbridge have no formal qualifications.  This is borne out by noble “Castlereagh contains wards in the most education deprived quintile”. 

Ballybeen, once a stable and desirable estate, is now experiencing decline, a view supported by the NIHE.  In a recent mapping exercise the NIHE pointed to rising levels of dependency and social deprivation outlying estates such as Ballybeen.  A situation further exacerbated by the recent closure of a major employer in the area – TKEEC –resulting in the loss of 550 jobs, many of them occupied by women. 

"Castlereagh contains wards in the most education deprived quintile": NOBLE

Ballybeen has suffered as a consequence of the conflict:

  • Polarisation of the community – a strong single identity area which displays sectarian division and has resulted in the ghettoisation of areas, civil unrest, paramilitary feuding and fear of travelling to or mixing with communities outside their own.
  • A very significant decline in industry and business e.g. ship building, as well as lower levels of inward investment and higher unemployment, a legacy of the conflict is that areas such as Ballybeen particularly amongst young people, many of whom are leaving school with little or no qualifications, there is an unemployment culture as opposed to self employment, but without the accustomed sources of employment and with an aversion to risk and to self-employment.
  • Relatively low numbers of entrepreneurs to create new jobs – a shortage of people with the enterprise attributes also necessary for the job opportunities being created in areas such as ICT, software etc. 
  • Educational underachievement – within Ballybeen there are high levels of literacy/numeracy difficulties e.g. within Enler ward 80% of the adult population have no formal qualifications, ranking them within the worst 5% of Northern Irelands wards (Noble).

All of the above have a profound negative impact on the community, leaving many feeling apathetic.