Sinn Féin - On Your Side

SDLP have serious questions to answer after backtracking on pledges

8 September, 2006


South Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has said that the SDLP have serious questions to answer after they backtracked on their pledge to oppose the selling of land at McClure Street by the Council to the highest bidder and have backtracked on their pledge to campaign for family homes on the site.

Cllr. Maskey MLA said,
"Last month the Belfast City Council's Parks committee agreed to sell the 0.73 acre plot of land at McClure Street to the highest bidder. I had sought legal advice on the matter on whether the council could rescind this decision. The advice both myself and the committee got was that the council was within its rights to do this. This would have meant that the council could, again, put the land up for sale but this time include conditions which would mean that any developer would have to include family homes and social housing on the site.

"Today a motion to rescind the previous decision was put to the vote. It was
defeated by four votes to three, with the three Sinn Féin representatives on
the committee supporting the motion. This move will see luxury apartments
built on 80% of the site. This is not in the benefit of a community which
has a severe housing shortage, and it is certainly not in the interests of
anybody to have an apartment block built in an interface area.

"Predictably many of those unionists politicians present argued that the
council would make more money by selling the land to the highest bidder for
apartments. It doesn't surprise me that the unionist politicians present
would put profit before the interests of the people of both Donegall Pass
and the Lower Ormeau.

"I am deeply disappointed at the SDLP though, as will be many people in the
Lower Ormeau area.

"The SDLP's Pat McCarthy has stated publicly on a number of occasions that
he would oppose any attempts to build apartments at McClure Street. Indeed,
he has claimed that he has 'been saying for four years now that the only
thing which should be built on the McClure Street site is family homes'. In
terms of the potential interface problems Cllr. McCarthy stated in his
public statements that 'the worst possible thing that could happen would be
for apartments or single accommodation to be built there'.

"The SDLP's Pat McCarthy publicly pledged that he would do everything he
could as a public representative to ensure that profit doesn't take priority
over people on this issue.

"The SDLP then have some serious questions to answer given that the only
SDLP councillor present on the committee at today's meeting left the room
when this was being discussed and did not return until after the vote was
taken. The SDLP have backtracked on their pledge to oppose the selling of
land at McClure Street by the Council to the highest bidder and have
backtracked on their pledge to campaign for family homes on the site.

He concluded,
"Sinn Féin intends to follow through on its pledge to oppose the selling of
the land to the highest bidder. This decision has to be ratified by the full
council as well as other committees. I firmly believe that the Council needs
to look at this again. They must stop putting profit before people. It is
not in the interests of those who live in the surrounding area to have an
apartment complex built in McClure Street".
CRÍOCH

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