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Just why does the DUP want to retain a militarised base like Mountpottinger? – Ó Donnghaile

25 July, 2008

Just why does the DUP want to retain a militarised base like Mountpottinger? - Ó Donnghaile

Speaking after the DUP's East Belfast MLA Robin Newton yesterday called for the retention of Mountpottinger Barracks in East Belfast, Sinn Féin's Niall Ó Donnghaile has question what the exact reasons for this position are.

He said,

"Obviously the DUP in East Belfast have always had a desire to militarise the Short Strand area, after all they were the party who called for a 'ring of steel' to be put around the district. In the current climate within a new political dispensation, the DUP need to clearly outline the practical reasons why they want Mountpottinger Barracks retained.

Mountpottinger is a relic of the past; it is a symbol of all that was wrong with policing here in the North. On top of that, in practical terms the base is over a century old, it is used on a part time basis as it is, and Strandtown Station on the Hollywood road is a short distance away as is Musgrave St Station.

No one disputes the need for effective community based policing; I deal with people everyday who suffer as a result of anti-social behaviour and I continue to raise the very real concerns around drugs in East Belfast. These are issues we all need to tackle, the PSNI included. What Sinn Féin and the community in the Short Strand want to see is the PSNI, like the rest of us, moving on into a new climate where these issues can be dealt with practically and I believe that we can do this. The retention of a huge militarised blight on our area does nothing to aid this endeavour.

Therefore I must ask again, what exactly are the practical reasons the DUP believe justify the retention of Mountpottinger Barracks? Are they truly concerned about crime in East Belfast or is it a case that they want to maintain the 'ring of steel' they once called for in the past?


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