Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Carál ni Chuilin has welcomed the consultation period on the draft EQAI surrounding the development of the Girdwood Barracks site. However Ms Ni Chuilin stated that any development of the site must place objective need and equality to the fore.
Speaking today Ms ni Chuilin said:
"Sinn Féin pressed for the right to have an EQIA despite DSD resistance towards this process and we welcome the fact that there is now a consultation period on the draft EQAI. However there are outstanding concerns on the development of this site by DSD.
"The neighbourhoods surrounding Girdwood are amongst the highest in terms of areas of multiple deprivation. As such there is a clearly defined need for mixed tenure housing, leisure, employment for local people etc and this needs to be targeted towards objective need.
"A clear example is the massive waiting list for housing in north Belfast, three quarters of which is from the nationalist community. This development must go some way to addressing this need.
"Sinn Féin have asked for a meeting surrounding this process with the DSD to raise our concerns. There can be no backsliding on the equality agenda and the primacy of objective need." ENDS