Letters to the Editor

Shame on all who denied needy families the right to decent homes

I would like to respond to the article – ‘Planners recommend approval for £55m Belfast student block’ (August 17) – regarding student accommodation at Carrick Hill. First and foremost, let me say shame on the Department for Communities and Belfast City Council for allowing Northside through the back door. This Donegall Street site was earmarked for social housing, 70 units in total, as far back as 2005.  This social housing scheme was supported by local councillors, MLAs and DFC, but now a complete U-turn has taken place. So much for the 4,000-plus on the housing waiting list. The social housing has been replaced by a proposal to build a 724-unit student accommodation block.

The development will rise from six to nine storeys in height and will only have 15 car park spaces.

For Carrick Hill residents that are suffering day and daily from city centre parkers this just adds insult to injury. The entrance of this development is fronting into Carrick Hill. Why not Donegall Street? To us here in Carrick Hill the answer is simple. When all the students are in place, bearing in mind a very big percentage will more than likely be of the nationalist persuasion, and when the marching season is upon us and all that entails, the students like the rest of the residents in Carrick Hill will be corralled in, not allowed out until the parades pass.

More shame on these councillors and DFC, for their latest actions.  We have three sites, two of which were for social housing consisting of traditional family homes with a Housing Association already in place to build on the site belonging to DFC. We had another site with a proposal for a hotel, supermarket and nursery. Now the same DFC in conjunction with Belfast City Council have shelved these developments and put the sites out to five Housing Associations for their expression of interest. One has already responded telling us it will be multiple blocks of flats on the three sites.

On behalf of those on the lengthy housing waiting list, shame on all of you for denying needy families their rights to a decent home and depriving people of future employment on the proposed hotel site. This site which would have been situated at the corner of North Street/Carrick would have softened the interface site which it currently is.

FRANK DEMPSEY
Carrick Hill Residents’ Association

 

I salute you Mr President

“A Protestant parliament for a Protestant people,” so said Sir James Craig, first prime minister for Northern Ireland after that statelet was set up following the partition of Ireland in 1921.

“I wouldn’t have a Catholic about the place” - those words were spoken by another northern prime minister, Sir Basil Brooke, when he addressed a unionist rally and advised Protestant landowners and businessmen not to employ Catholics.

Quite recently Arlene Foster, when leader of the DUP and First Minister of the power-sharing Executive at Stormont famously compared Sinn Féin, her partners in government, to hungry crocodiles, saying – “If you keep giving them concessions they will keep coming back for more.” Now we have Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP (though not being the first anything yet) lambasting the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, for declining an invitation to commemorate the partition of Ireland and the establishment of Northern Ireland 100 years ago. The organisers of this commemoration are said to be heads of the various Churches in Ireland, including Eamon Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland. They say it will be a service of reconciliation to mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland and the creation of Northern Ireland, something that the overwhelming majority of the Irish people did not want. It was imposed on Ireland by the British government. President Higgins, being a great champion of reconciliation in Ireland is also a wise and principled man and is correct to refuse the invitation to an event that has absolutely nothing to do with reconciliation.

The Dublin government should take heed of the President and refuse to be represented at the event either. What in the name of God is there to commemorate anyhow? Nothing less than a complete and utter disaster, that’s what. How can anyone be expected to forget (to put it mildly) the sheer lack of respect shown to the Catholic/Nationalist community here. The facts speak for themselves.

President Higgins I salute you.

SEAN MASKEY
Belfast BT15

 

Congratulations Mr President

Congratulations Michael D Higgins. It has been reassuring for the Irish people to know our President has a spine, while the leader of the Catholic Church here in the occupied territory has excelled in a stomach-wrenching display of moral bankruptcy, forgetting the hundreds of his flock who had their lives taken away through the sectarian arrangements of partition created 100 years ago.

A visit from a British queen will be of little solace to the thousands of victims denied justice by her government.

LAURENCE O’NEILL
Martinstown, Co Antrim

 

Misplaced critique

Fionnuala O Connor’s critique of Archbishop Eamon Martin is both misplaced and unfair. His role and that of his fellow leaders of the other Churches is to be a healer not the promoter of one political ideology or another.  And they deserve everyone’s appreciation for their sincere efforts to that end.

J. ANTHONY GAUGHAN
Blackrock, Co Dublin

 

Weekend closure of Larne and Derry train line

Essential engineering works will be carried out on the Derry and Larne train lines on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd October as part of the Dark Arches to Whiteabbey Track Renewal (DAWTR) project. There will be some alteration to services with bus substitutions in operation on these lines. The Dark Arches to Whiteabbey Track Renewal project represents a major capital investment and is essential to maintain high safety standards and operational performance as we invest and build back better to deliver fit for purpose infrastructure for the future.

Bus substitution will be in operation between Antrim and Lanyon Place Station in Belfast for services on the Derry line.

Passengers with valid rail tickets will also be able to travel on scheduled Ulsterbus services 218 operating between Ballymena/Antrim and Belfast, in addition to the 212 service between Derry and Belfast during the closure period.
Passengers are advised to check their journey in advance using Translink’s website www.translink.co.uk or Journey Planner. Further information can be found at www.translink.co.uk.

IAN CAMPBELL
Translink’s director of Service Operations

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