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Policing Board decision to close and dispose of Mountpottinger PSNI barracks welcomed

6 August, 2009

East Belfast Sinn Féin representative Niall Ó Donnghaile has welcomed today’s decision by the Policing Board to close and dispose of Mountpottinger PSNI barracks.

Speaking after today’s announcement Niall Ó Donnghaile said,
“I would wholeheartedly welcome today’s decision by the Policing Board. Sinn Féin and the local community have long campaigned for the removal of Mountpottinger barracks.

"This barracks only functions on a part-time basis and costs around £180,000 annually to retain. In addition, in the year between July 2007 and July 2008 it was used by only 16 members of the public. This barracks is clearly a drain on the PSNI’s resources, resources which could be better used in tackling crime in the East Belfast area.

"The PSNI’s own consultation on the future of the barracks received 907 submissions calling for the removal of this barracks as opposed to 4 submissions calling for its retention.

"For those who live in the immediate vicinity of this barracks, almost 1,000 of whom signed a petition calling for its removal, Mountpottinger barracks is a symbol of all that was wrong with policing in the North of Ireland. From the 1970's when Albert 'Ginger' Baker admitted that he was supplied weapons by the desk sergeant at the barracks to kill local nationalists for the UDA right up to the siege of the area in 2002 when the PSNI stood by while the area came under loyalist attack.”

He concluded,
“This decision is a victory for the Short Strand community. It could not have been achieved without the hard work and support of the local community. However, much remains to be done and we must now ensure that the local community benefit fully from this closure. This means that the money which was being wasted on maintaining this barracks must be diverted into front-line policing services to deliver an up to date and effective policing service for local communities in East Belfast. I would also call upon the Department of Social Development to earmark the barracks site as a potential area for social and community development to ensure maximum benefit for the people of this area.” CRÍOCH

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