Masterplan for Girdwood: “back to the sectarian drawing board…”

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The Northern Ireland First and deputy First Minsters recently announced the second round of funding, £1.5million, available from the Executive and Atlantic Philanthropies’ ‘Contested Spaces’ Programme, although I’m still not entirely clear where the other £2.5million went…

The announcement, in the absence of a “Cohesion, Sharing and Integration” strategy, rebranded, and “watered down” to the “lowest commmon denominator“, or otherwise, coincides with the reveal of a new contested space the masterplan for the regeneration of the Girdwood Park former military base.  [And the Crumlin Road Gaol ? - Ed]  Separate masterplan…

The ministerial press release comes with a “Joint statement from North Belfast elected representatives, Minister Nelson McCausland, Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, Nigel Dodds MP, Alban Maginness MLA, William Humphrey MLA, Gerry Kelly MLA and Alderman David Browne.”  Which is nice.  The representatives note

 Housing will also be developed on the site, for a broad range of people in the context of a shared site. This will contribute along with other developments to addressing housing need and broader regeneration issues in North Belfast.

As the now NI Social Development Minister, the DUP’s Nelson McCausland, told BBC NI’s Julia Paul in 2008

We don’t really have shared housing sites in north Belfast.

And from the now NI Culture Minister, Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín, in the same 2008 report

Those communities aren’t ready to live together yet.

But as BBC NI political editor, Mark Devenport, points out

So what has changed?

I did my best to get an answer out of Nelson McCausland on Monday night’s BBC Newsline, but viewers will have noted that during a brief interview the minister appeared keener to talk about the planned sports facilities rather than to give further details about the housing compromise.

Significantly the new master-plan shows two separate residential zones – one near the Antrim Road which appears likely to attract nationalist residents, another on Clifton Park Avenue, just outside the Girdwood perimeter, which seems more oriented towards unionists. [added emphasis]

On Monday morning, the SDLP’s Alban Maginness posed alongside other local elected representatives at the site with a giant copy of the new master-plan (a photographer captured the event but broadcasters weren’t invited).

However, Mr Maginness later issued a statement in which he qualified his welcome for the breakthrough, talking about the Girdwood glass being both half full and half empty.

“The housing need in north Belfast requires and acquires a significant element of the Girdwood site to go to social housing” Mr Maginness argued.

“The scale of need is not fully recognised in the announcement and some may argue that the principle of housing based on need has not prevailed when it comes to the Girdwood site.”

So the devil may yet prove to be in the detail – how many houses will be built, and will the provision of accommodation match the need demonstrated by those on the waiting list?

As you can see from the masterplan on the NI Executive’s flickr feed, the proposed residential zones are at opposite ends of the site.  [Build another peace wall! - Ed]

And here’s that still-relevant 2008 Hearts and Minds report on the then-stalled project

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  • tacapall

    Fair play to you Pete for calling a spade a spade, no doubt there’ll be jobs for the boys and money to be made for certain individuals who are friends and comrades of those who have put party before people.

  • andnowwhat

    Alban’s maths seem poor. Attwood planned 200+ houses but rumour has it there will be only 50-60 houses allocated to nationalists. That makes the glass a quarter full Alban

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “back to the sectarian drawing board…”

    Back? I work from the premise that we haven’t left and won’t be leaving any time soon. The decade of anniversaries is more likely to increase the pressure at interfaces than to reduce it.

    North Belfast is a patchwork of small communities with opposing national aspirations and poorish economic prospects; it’s little wonder that there has been so much trauma there during the course of the past five or more generations, particularly the Troubles.

    It’s good that some sort of deal has been done – perhaps facilitated by the prospect of losing £10m(?) EU funding. Compromises can be messy but they’re better than no decisions – or full blown conflict.

  • PaulT

    Houses! For fenians! on the site of the UVF Social Club, that’s got to be progress.

    http://www.thedetail.tv/issues/20/udr-girdwood-story/british-army-covered-up-udr-units-links-to-uvf

  • Old Mortality

    Nevin
    ‘North Belfast is a patchwork of small communities with opposing national aspirations and poorish economic prospects’
    Then why not encourage them to move where economic prospects are better rather than build shiny new houses for people to sit around doing nothing in.
    And if you have to build houses on the site, how about making them available only to families who do not depend on the state for sustenance. If you can’t fill them on that basis, they’re not needed.

  • Bangordub

    Old Mortality-
    “And if you have to build houses on the site, how about making them available only to families who do not depend on the state for sustenance. If you can’t fill them on that basis, they’re not needed.”

    Did I read that right….?

  • iluvni

    Nice new housing development being built behind Toys R Us, beside Bawnmore, near Abbeycentre.
    Some rather interesting graffiti on the wall the other day….

    ‘Loucals only, outsiders will be put out’
    (yes, ‘Loucals’)

    I wonder if Sinn fein and sdlp are aware

  • Old Mortality

    Bangordub
    Indeed you did. If Nevin is correct about poorish economic prospects in North Belfast, then it is irrational to give anyone encouragement to live there.

  • Bangordub

    Old Mortality,
    Where to start, OK, you are saying that if people can’t afford to buy then there is no housing need? It simply doesn’t exist and if it does then it is immaterial as North Belfast is such a write off, economically, that they should just move elsewhere. Eh, where do you suggest? Also that the houses, if built, should be built and sold on the open market, presumably by a private developer? Why has no private developer shown any interest?

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Tapacall. I watched the Spotlight programme and the presenter seemed to suggest at the end that, for SF, approval of the Housing executive would be needed to start the building. I can only assume SF decided the girdwood site wouldn’t increase the catholic vote in NB much because the homeless have the vote still and are in the area. So they didn’t see the fallout coming. At least this exposes the DUP as not having changed in 45 years. they’re still trying to deny catholics a home.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “DUP as not having changed in 45 years”

    Daniel, the DUP wasn’t formed until 1971, one year after the formation of the SDLP.

  • dwatch

    “I can only assume SF decided the girdwood site wouldn’t increase the catholic vote in NB”

    This may have been a DUP worry 6 years ago. But now the new boundaries are to be formed before the 2014 Westminister & MLA elections, Highfield, Glencairn & the Shankill wards (unionist votes) are to be moved from W Belfast to N Belfast. Any fear from Mr McCausland, N Dodds & other DUP NB association members would lose the MP’s seat and maybe one MLA seat to SDLP or SF has been put to bed. Building homes on the old girdwood site is irrelevant now,

  • RyanAdams

    dwatch is correct. A reverse example is Somerdale, which Alex Attwood wouldn’t start until Girdwood had been agreed. Given Somerdale fell in West Belfast, where unionists are just short of a seat and the SDLP barely hanging onto theirs …

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Nevin I was wondering who would jump on that . Obviously the title and party didn’t come around until ’71 but those who joined were around fomenting trouble at NICRA marches with Paisley and his henchmen. So it’s the same difference.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “fomenting trouble at NICRA marches”

    No jumping needed, Daniel, just a small correction!

    The purpose of the NICRA marches was to foment trouble. Liam O Comain has described how John Hume wouldn’t touch NICRA and Desmond Greaves was an important influence on those republicans of various hues who used/abused rights issues to advance the UI cause. The Paisleyites were more than willing to oblige.

  • Old Mortality

    Bangordub
    ‘Where to start, OK, you are saying that if people can’t afford to buy then there is no housing need?’
    It’s got nothing to do with buying. Where did I indicate that?What exactly is housing need? Are people sleeping on the streets in north Belfast? Whatever the housing need is, could that need be met elsewhere or do those perceived to be in housing need have some material need to live there such as convenient access to their place of employment. If not then why can’t they be unemployed where housing is already available. Wanting to live across the road from mammy is not a valid cause of housing need. If people can uproot themselves from Lithuania and Poland to work here, surely it’s not asking too much of locals to move a few miles.

  • andnowwhat

    Old Morality

    Astonishing lack of insight in to working class dynamics there. Maybe our communities should become basket cases like in GB and become a maze of sink estates, bereft of any cohesion?

  • Bangordub

    Old Mortality
    Simple answer, That is precisely the thinking that explains much of NI history after 1921. If you wish I will explain in detail.

  • lamhdearg2

    The housing executive should have been tasked with building and providing affordable housing on the complete site (and some surrounding areas), these homes should have been offered (for sale*) in the first instance to folk with an social housing address in the nationlist areas of north belfast, then the remainder( if any remained) offered to the general public, this would have freed up housing in social housing in ardoyne ect for those with a need, and the devolpment would as private homes often do, be less of a contentious site.

    “for sale” subsidised, co ownership with claw back clause’s and develpopment rules.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    After |Attwood’s performance on Nolan on the box, on behalf of Alban McGuiness, we can now add to whataboutery with ifery and butery. He was found out out well and truly. Why anyone would think that sf were on the side of catholics 40 years ago is fantasy. It was not in their interest to have the colony reformed for their own community. Now they’ve foubnd their true level with the duppers. No integrity no principles no nothing them and the DUP are well met. It’s great that they are finally exposed for what they are.

  • cynic2

    Fair play to Nolan for screwing them down on this one and on the conversion of the Housing Executive to a cypher implementing all our little Reichzfuherers’ policies on racial segregation.

    Just why do we pay for these sectarian sleazeballs to run anything?

  • dwatch

    By studying the NB Westminster elections results in 2010 both SDLP & SF had the MP’s seat in the bag had they worked with one another. SF A Maskey stood aside in SB and A McDonnell won the seat easily. Had SDLP stood aside in NB Gerry Kelly would have won the seat with more votes than N Dodds DUP (see results inclosed).

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.eoni.org.uk/index/elections/westminster-parliamentary-election-2010/westminster-parliamentary-election-2010-results.htm&sa=U&ei=ud69T7T6DM7t8QOQ_cQ3&ved=0CC0QFjAI&usg=AFQjCNFRJKi30CpijK5EOHNMeYnjs3gymw

    The next Westminster election in 2014 the DUP will win the seat easily because of boundary changes as I mentioned in an earlier post.

  • tacapall

    Dwatch after the actions of Sinn Fein and the SDLP any nationalists voting for these political cowards needs their heads examined.

  • cynic2

    “The next Westminster election in 2014 the DUP will win the seat easily because of boundary changes as I mentioned in an earlier post.”

    ….if there are any. The Westminster Vote on the changes is looking shaky. We could see a SF MP in North Belfast and Nigel forced to earn a living again. Sad innit

  • Old Mortality

    andnow what
    ‘Maybe our communities should become basket cases like in GB and become a maze of sink estates, bereft of any cohesion?’
    Aren’t they there already? How would some mobility have an adverse effect?

    Bangor dub
    I suspect that you’re of the view that lving exactly where you want at public expense is a human right (at least in NI), in which case there is no basis for dialogue.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Tapacall. Trouble with that is both main nationalist parties [as with the unionist ones]see their voters as fodder who have nowhere else to go and it looks like the parties judgement on that is proven correct in most cases. If Direct rule had been in place now, the gidwood houses would have been built for those in need in line with HE principles. Obviously McCausland has a viral hatred of the HE because he and his party know the HE is an eternal standing reproach to unionist corruption of housing since this benighted place came into being. Therefore he’s happy to see it undermined.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Looks like Nolan’s on his own on this Girdwood scandal as the Tele Newsletter and UTV aren’t interested in rocking the boat as they are no crusading journalists in any of these organisations. The BBC and Nolan have done their job exposing the sham that stormont is. Fair play to them.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “HE is an eternal standing reproach to unionist corruption of housing

    Daniel, perhaps you are being swept away in a tide of propaganda …

    From the same link:

    Professor Rose (1968): “…no evidence of systematic discrimination against Catholics. The greatest bias appears to favour Catholics in areas controlled by Catholic councillors.”

    Graham Gudgin: “In other words, Catholics did not get more local authority houses only because they were poorer. At any given level of income Catholics fared distinctly better than Protestants.”

    I can provide various examples of poor governance in Moyle but it would be a mistake to extrapolate my experience to the other council areas – where matters might be better or worse. I can’t give an open and full account because of the impact of developers and paramilitaries.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Nevin The British govt stripped unionists of power in 1972 for a good reason The Gudgin character is a trimble crony so I’d expect nothing better from him Why do you think Roses report didn’t stop london from closing stormont down?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Daniel, Gudgin’s comments are based on the research carried out by the American academic; they’re merely a summary of Rose’s conclusions.

    London shut Stormont down presumably because the latter lacked the security resources to contain the conflict that flowed from the ‘socialist revolution‘. Dublin had done a runner when it realised that the revolutionary intent was to sweep away the administrations in Dublin as well as Belfast.

    After the worst of the firestorm swept through, various efforts have been made to restore Stormont so that London and Dublin could get on with more important business. Judging by the calibre of many of our MLAs it’s a little bit surprising that an agreement has been reached over the Girdwood site. Presumably it essentially involved some sort of DUP/SF trade-off.

    Various references have been made to the Housing Executive but its internal management problems seem to have attracted relatively little MSM or Slugger attention, certainly nothing like the deep dive coverage of NI Water.

  • michael-mcivor

    Brit army out- Irish homes in- sounds like a good news story to me-

  • tacapall

    Danielsmoran when the Girdwood project gets off the ground, if it ever does, and they do build houses at either end of the land with playing fields and a sports arena in between with a possible volatile interface, obviously the new tenants will be vetted and hand picked, not following the normal rules of the HE and community workers staffing the sports arena and community hub will most likely be the usual, jobs for the boys in Sinn Fein and the PUP, or UDA.

  • http://www.thedissenter.co.uk thedissenter

    Pete, the rest of the Contested Spaces – or at least the next part http://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/index/equality/community-relations/contested_spaces_programme.htm

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    ‘when the Girdwood project gets off the ground, if it ever does….’
    I wonder if, assuming the heat stays on as in Nolan last night, the project might be quietly withdrawn to spare the two parties . Not following the normal rules of the HE…., this is wilful avoidance of the normal HE rules. I can’t believe Kelly’s that naive as to think if the need at the quoted 90% was for protestant hom,eless, the DUP would be talking about equal sharing of this space.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “I can’t believe Kelly’s that naive”

    Daniel, naivety doesn’t really come into it. The DUP and SF have a mutual veto so normal rules don’t apply. Any one who thinks otherwise – is being naive.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    point taken, nevin.

  • http://www.youtube.com/orangedemocrats Orange Democrats

    Given the recent history of attacks on protestant homes in north Belfast – which are still fresh in the memory of ex-Torrens, Whitewell and Glenbryn residents – knowingly creating a new interface in the area would be utter madness.

    A good decision has been made here.

  • aquifer

    Maybe there are too many homes and not enough other commercial buildings in North Belfast. With welfare reform people will have to share homes to afford the rent so demand will fall.

  • Dec

    Orangedemocrats

    That’s quite a library of material you’ve got up on Youtube. Not sure I agree with your overall theme that every catholic murdered by loyalists was either a provo or a provo supporter and got what was coming to them, but hey, we live in a democracy.

  • Barnshee

    By what right do I have (at Tax payers expense)

    To live exactly where I choose.
    Trade up to larger accomodation as I choose expand my family (and continue to choose where I live)?

    Why is this not my responsibility?

  • http://www.youtube.com/orangedemocrats Orange Democrats

    Dec (profile)
    25 May 2012 at 10:21 am

    That’s quite a library of material you’ve got up on Youtube. Not sure I agree with your overall theme that every catholic murdered by loyalists was either a provo or a provo supporter and got what was coming to them, but hey, we live in a democracy.

    ———-

    Not sure where you’ve got that idea from. Most of my videos are seeking justice for catholics killed during The Troubles.

  • Dec

    ‘Not sure where you’ve got that idea from. ‘

    How about this one on the Sean Graham bookie’s massacre:

    IRA supporters killed after murder of eight protestants at Teebane

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIP8hJpeNTI&feature=relmfu

    Or this one about the murder of Patrick Shields and his 20 year old son Diarmuid in1993(whose girlfriend tragically killed herself a month later through grief) which you’ve thoughtfully enitled ‘Mid Ulster Loyalists wiping out the IRA across East Tyrone and Armagh ‘

  • jthree

    Yeah come on Dec you’ve totally got the wrong end of the stick…the UVF songs among that stuff only refers to the ‘good’ UVF who loved Catholics and not the ‘bad’ UVF who shot them. Please keep up.

  • Old Mortality

    michael mcivor
    ‘Brit army out- Irish homes in- sounds like a good news story to me’
    And all paid for by Brit taxpayers, an even better story? Sure, t’is only in our nature?

  • dwatch

    Why can these 50,000 new homes lying empty in ‘ghost’ estates throughout Ireland (North & South) be used for social housing instead all of this political squabbling over a few houses in North Belfast going to unionists or republicans?

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://pibasure.ie/news/551-50-000-new-homes-lying-empty-in-ghost-estates-irish-independent&sa=U&ei=r47AT5jRBZKW8gPr2IiECw&ved=0CBQQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNHReTEf8sbkyP_wa-h6EtrgUyxqjA

  • Old Mortality

    dwatch
    ‘Why can these 50,000 new homes lying empty in ‘ghost’ estates throughout Ireland (North & South) be used for social housing instead all of this political squabbling over a few houses in North Belfast going to unionists or republicans?’

    They’d have to be in ‘our community’ because we have an absolute right to live exactly where we want and if the houses aren’t there they’ll just have to build them. So away with your oul’ nonsense about moving to ‘ghost estates’. Maybe the foreigners could be made to live in them .

  • streetlegal

    The position of the Permanent Secretary at DSD must also be called into question. If the management of the Housing Executive are indeed coming under pressure to subvert its ‘allocation of housing on the basis of need’ principle, then that pressure must be coming from the Permanent Secretary of DSD.

    It would be very useful if the appropriate committee at Stormont would call him in on this issue – and require the disclosure of all communications between his office and the Housing Executive management.

  • dwatch

    “They’d have to be in ‘our community’ because we have an absolute right to live exactly where we want and if the houses aren’t there they’ll just have to build them.”

    Old Mortality
    Well if that be so, then you would agree houses should built for Protestants to replace those which were demolished some 35 years ago in N Belfast. After direct rule hundreds of Protestants had to leave their homes in the lower Oldpark due to redevelopment. A whole community from the junction of the Oldpark & Crumlin Roads up to Walton St on the Crumlin Rd. & Louisa St on the Oldpark Rd was demolished & turned into Hillview Industrial estate. A whole community of Protestants were dispersed to other parts of Belfast, Antrim, Craigavon, Bangor & Carrickfergus. Not one street was lost in the Catholic Bone area of N Belfast during this renovation.

  • Lionel Hutz

    so is this just going to be quietly forgotten about

  • seamus60

    Lionel Hutz What ??????

  • streetlegal

    Not quite – as I understand it plans are afoot within the Equality Commission to take a test case against the Department of Social Development – on the principle of whether that department is, or is not, allocating housing in NI on the basis of need. The Girdwood story will run and run.