Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile has said Minister David Ford and the Department of Justice must act to reassure the fears of residents living along Strand Walk. His calls come after the installation of new security ‘netting’ which, as yet, remains unclosed.
Cllr Ó Donnghaile said;
“At the time of this fence going up I said it was regrettable and that no one in the Short Strand wanted to live in an area surrounded by walls; but we also accept the fears of our neighbours who live on the interfaces.
"The latest security measure was hailed as a perfect balance, to ease tensions and add to the security of residents, but up until now it remains unclosed and residents are as vulnerable as they ever were.
"Community organisation in the area are frustrated that in the run-up to the summer the netting still hasn’t closed and we now discover in order to close this, it takes in the region of four hours and a cherry-picker. I’m not sure if Minister Ford has ever been on the ground during violence at our interfaces but I can assure him that four hours and cherry-picker will be of little solace to the elderly and disabled residents living along Strand Walk.
"The Minister also claimed on radio this morning that he wasn’t sure if there was a connection between ‘flag protests’ and recent violence inflicted on the Short Strand; after months of illegal parades and roadblocks, orchestrated attacks on the Short Strand area and indeed attacks against members of his own party, I find that claim somewhat disingenuous.
"While I reiterate that no one wishes to see the erection of more so called ‘peacelines’ the reality for residents living in Strand Walk and St. Matthew’s Court is that until the Minister closes his ‘curtain’ they will continue to feel that little less safe in their own homes.”