Homes – not another ‘peace wall in disguise’

The priority must be integrated public housing

A call for the building of public housing on the former Mackies site on Belfast’s Springfield Road has been made amidst fears that the area could be used to develop ‘yet another peace wall in disguise’

The comments come from Workers Party representative Conor Duffy who says that “despite West Belfast having one of the highest public housing waiting lists in Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council is proposing to develop the 25 acre site as a park and green-way amenity area..

” There is currently a need for more than 2,000 publicly owned, affordable homes in West Belfast. The waiting list figures here are amongst the highest in Northern Ireland”, Conor said.

Sectarian balance

“It is unbelievable that Belfast City Council is turning its back on the opportunity to use 25 acres of publicly owned land to build desperately needed public housing, unless of course their concerns are not about providing homes, but are about maintaining a sectarian balance”, he said .

“We have seen this before in other parts of Belfast – the site of the old Girwood Barracks in North Belfast, for example. Instead of using that land to addresses the chronic shortage of public housing in that area it too was turned into a ‘shared community space’ – which in reality represents yet another dividing line in the community.

“That option means that new public housing isn’t built where and when it should be, so that the local electoral balance remains unchanged”, Conor pointed out

“There is a very real danger that that is what we are about to see happen at the former Mackies site”, Conor added

Integrated public housing

“Here we have perfect opportunity to build an integrated public housing development stretching between the Springfield and Ballygomartin areas in line with the Housing Executive’s ‘Building Good Relations Through Housing Strategy (2017).

 l have written to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and asked her to intervene directly before we have a bigger housing crisis and another yet another peace wall in disguise”, Conor concluded.