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Ó Donnghaile submits clear message to the consultation on the future of Mountpottinger Barracks

23 July, 2008

Ó Donnghaile submits clear message to the consultation on the future of Mountpottinger Barracks

Niall Ó Donnghaile has formally submitted Sinn Féin's submission to the consultation on the future of Mountpottinger PSNI Barracks in the Short Strand area of East Belfast.

He said,

"Today I have written to the District Commander in East Belfast submitting my party's position on the future of Mountpottinger PSNI Barracks. For decades now Sinn Féin has joined with the local community to call for the dismantling of Mountpottinger and its replacement with affordable and social homes.

Our position remains that Mountpottinger must go, for years now our campaigned has called for 'homes not forts', and that is what we will continue to work to achieve.

We accept also that communities need a high standard of effective community orientated policing; we are about getting that right for the people we represent. However the current presence and any planned retention of Mountpottinger Barracks does nothing to help process.

Mountpottinger's days are over, it is a relic of intimidation, oppression and murder; the community want to see it gone. Over the coming weeks Sinn Féin will be collecting signatures from the local community for a petition calling for the removal of Mountpottinger.


Notes to Editors:

Following is a copy of the letter Niall sent in as a submission to this consultation

Mountpottinger has a long and notorious history for the people who live within the very community its presence disrupts. Not only in terms of its appearance does the Barracks not fit in with the modern appearance of the Short Strand area, but in terms of the record that this particular fort holds, warrants its closure without delay.

For many, Mountpottinger is a site of collusion, intimidation, repression and death; many local people were held and brutalised there before moving on to other notorious interrogation centres. Its armoury was open for use to Loyalist Paramilitaries to murder innocent Nationalists and Republicans and it was from this base that an RUC officer emerged to murder Tony Dawson. In June 1970 when Saint Matthew's Chapel and the whole of the Short Strand area came under sustained attack, the doors of the Barracks remained firmly shut and no assistance emerged. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the legacy, infamy and notoriety of this base must be taken into account and its necessity questioned, within a new political dispensation, within a new Béal Feirste.

In practical terms, the base is little used or manned; it is located in the heart of one of Belfast's oldest communities with a chronic need for the development of affordable and social housing. The removal of Mountpottinger can greatly assist our arguments for, and ability to achieve a degree of social housing on the vacant site. This is something that Sinn Féin and other community representatives have lobbied on for decades. We have engaged with other stakeholders, including the Housing Executive, regarding the possibility for development when the base is removed.

Sinn Féin is on record as having long campaigned for (under the banner of 'Homes not Forts') the closure and removal of Mountpottinger Barracks and we will continue to do so in the time ahead. We have joined with the Short Strand community on countless occasions to protest at its unnecessary presence and the need for its dismantling. That campaign and the wishes of the host community must be taken on board and reflected within this review. The PSNI have an opportunity here to show that they are serious about getting policing right within our community, something they have never done before, and there is no greater reminder and reflection of that poor standard of policing than the very Barracks under review.

Our community needs effective policing; we are about working to get that right. Initiatives such as civilianised mobile stations etc are all worth looking at in the time ahead and Sinn Féin is committed to working with all those statutory bodies, community organisations as well as the PSNI achieving the highest level and best standard of policing for our people. With completion of the work at Strandtown Barracks in the time ahead, the retention of Mountpottinger will become even more pointless. We must face into modern day problems with effective modern day policing to challenge the many issues facing our communities including the scourge of drugs and anti social/community behaviour.

The continued presence of Mountpottinger serves and benefits no one, the people want it dismantled and something much more worthwhile established in its place.

Is mise,

Niall Ó Donnghaile
Ionadaí Shinn Féin Béal Feirste Soir
Sinn Féin Representative East Belfast

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