DUP Campaign Against Homes for Catholics in North Belfast

Imagine a Housing Minister and a Member of Parliament demanding a meeting with a Housing Association to oppose houses being built in their shared constituency in spite of the area being plagued by a lengthy housing waiting list.

Well, imagine no more.

The Irish News led with a story yesterday alleging that the then DUP Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds, and DUP councillor Brian Kingston met with representatives from Oaklee Homes to discuss their opposition to homes being built in a nationalist area of north Belfast.

The meeting took place in an Orange Hall.

The Irish News reported that the focus of the meeting was a plan to build houses in the Stanhope Street/ Clifton Street junction area of the nationalist Carrick Hill area.

The Irish News pointed out that, at the time, McCausland was Housing Minister, and in that capacity he provided funding to housing associations, including Oaklee.

The DUP delegation asked Oaklee representatives during the meeting to attend a follow-up meeting in the Clifton Street Orange Hall several days later.

From the paper:

“Oaklee had planned to build four semi-detached houses and six apartments close to Stanhope Street and Clifton Street- which leads from Belfast city centre to the Crumlin Road.

Several weeks after meeting the DUP the association withdrew the housing application.”

This is astonishing.

It would appear that a government minister responsible for housing, fully conscious of the housing crisis facing most particularly the catholic community in north Belfast, actively lobbied to prevent homes being built to ease the crisis.

But why?

Well, local community worker, Frank Dempsey, thinks he has the answer. Dempsey claims that “It’s quite clear from that meeting this was withdrawn under pressure to facilitate Orange marches coming down Clifton Street.”

In 2015 Oaklee merged with two other associations to form Choice Housing. The Irish News reported that Choice Housing are refusing to comment when asked to explain why the Stanhope Street housing proposal was withdrawn, and are also refusing to comment as to whether or not minutes were taken of the Orange Hall DUP meetings.

The development puts into context Nigel Dodds’ allegation of lazy sectarianism labeled at Gerry Kelly last year after a row was sparked by Sinn Fein’s publication of an election leaflet illustrating the religious demography of the north Belfast constituency.

Nigel’s party would appear to prefer a more active approach to sectarianism.

Indeed, Barry McCaffrey at The Detail has catalogued the actions and utterances of senior DUP politicians in the north Belfast constituency regarding housing over many years.

  • congal claen

    Whilst you may be correct Chris, is it not a bit sectarian in itself to immediately jump to your conclusion. Who knows, perhaps there are other reasons for the opposition. For example…

    http://www.herald.ie/news/labour-td-attacks-shameful-sinn-fein-over-social-housing-31480844.html

  • John Collins

    I would not vote Sinn Fein in a mad fit but they might have a point. Des O’Maaley, hardly a card carrying member of Sinn Fein, opposed the nature and extent of the Moyross and Southill social housing developments in Limerick. The people who did not listen to him have a lot to answer for.

  • congal claen

    HI John,
    Maybe they do. And so might McCausland.
    Frank Dempsey, who Chris quotes, isn’t mad in favour of the University of Ulster building student apartments in ‘his’ area.

  • Reader

    Problem solved, then. Build student apartments near the Clifton interface, and Nationalist homes for Nationalist people on Frank’s turf instead.

  • Ryan

    “is it not a bit sectarian in itself to immediately jump to your conclusion”
    When it comes to the DUP or Unionism in general Congal, the simple answer is: No. Its not jumping to conclusions to assume deeply sectarian intent from a party that was founded by a notorious, anti-Catholic, sectarian, protestant fundamentalist, hate preacher. Its not jumping to conclusions to assume sectarian intent when it comes to Unionism in general because their history and present illustrates a very long track record of sectarianism against the Catholic community in this part of Ireland.
    When it comes to Unionism, if it smells like anti-Catholicism, if it sounds like anti-Catholicism and it looks like anti-Catholicism then you can bet everything you own, including the clothes your sitting in, that it is anti-Catholicism.

  • congal claen

    Hi Ryan,
    I think your reply illustrates conclusion jumping far more ably than I ever could.

  • Well said Chris, I blogged on the subject myself just yesterday. I think this should be viewed in terms of a consistent political unionist mindset that hasn’t changed in 95 years. A mindset that has got them precisely nowhere

  • NMS

    The nub of the story therefore is that the DUP are responding to Gerry Kelly’s Provo sectarianism with their own little bit of sectarianism. Nothing changes.

  • the rich get richer

    Any Room for Extra- Terrestrials ! Ach ! Why would they bother ? !

  • Nevin

    “Well, local community worker, Frank Dempsey, thinks he has the answer. Dempsey claims that “It’s quite clear from that meeting this was withdrawn under pressure to facilitate Orange marches coming down Clifton Street.””

    Are you not being a little coy, Chris? The former housing minister appears to be familiar with some of the ‘community’ activities of Frank ‘the Dipper’ Dempsey.

  • Ryan

    Congal, I doubt very much the KKK would hold a secret meeting in reference to housing for Black people and the intention is honourable. That’s all I’m saying. Sometimes you just have to be real, Nelson and the DUP don’t have the Catholic communities best interests at heart, if you dispute that then I would love to hear your argument.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Now come on congal claen get with the programme. 😉 Nationalists can’t be sectarian (or criminal), unionists are by default sectarian.

    Now you may think that negatively stereotyping an entire section of people is itself sectarian, but you are probably wrong; and certainly so if you’re a unionist.

    Personally I’d be interested to know how you can tell that a house is a Catholic house even before it’s built. Have the plans been scrutinised and someone has noted that the windows are too close together/too far apart?

  • Chingford Man

    Do you people never ever bore yourselves by regurgitating the same old tired rant on every available occasion? Gosh, it’s like a broken record. No wonder the republican game plan is stalling.

    Have you considered that there may have been other issues the DUP might have been raising?

  • Chingford Man

    Having looked at what was said in the Irish News it is clear that there is no story here, bar the unusual fact of a meeting taking place in an Orange hall. It is just more unscrupulous sectarian pot-stirring from the usual source.

    Why, for example, did Donnelly quote from Frank Dempsey’s words to the Irish News but not from the DUP representative who also gave a response?

    Why Mick Fealty allows the credibility of his website to be undermined in this way is a mystery.

  • Ryan

    No one was calling all Unionists sectarian Jarl but I’d say its very fair and accurate to say most of their politicians are, especially the ones who don the Orange sash. Whats next? disputing the Orange Order is not anti-Catholic? Of course nationalists can be sectarian but I don’t buy into the “both sides as bad as each other” argument, its simply not true, History clearly shows Unionism had sectarianism to its core, while the Republican ideology itself had non-sectarianism at its core and was mainly founded by Protestants whilst the majority of its followers happen to be of the Catholic tradition. That’s not to say Republicans aren’t guilty of sectarian acts but to the same extreme as Unionists? sorry I don’t buy that and I have plenty of evidence to back up my argument. How can you tell a house is Catholic? Or indeed Protestant? Easily, housing is very segregated here, if your on the Shankill you’ll have a 99/100 chance of being right if you point out a house and claim a Protestant lives in it, the same if your on the Falls only with Catholics.

  • Chingford Man

    Perhaps some investigative journalism into Frank Dempsey by Chris would be welcome?

    I won’t hold my breath though as I don’t want to suffocate.

  • Ryan

    The Truth does tend to offend those who disagree with it Chingford, so no I’m not bored of repeating it.
    Yes, I’m sure Nelson, Dodds and the DUP councillor, meeting in an Orange Hall in secret with a Housing Association then that Housing Association scrapping plans for badly needed housing for Catholics all has an innocent explanation. We’ll wait and see what the minutes of the meeting reveal, if any was took.

  • Chingford Man

    It’s not the “truth”, it’s your opinion. The meeting wasn’t in “secret”, the absence of minutes suggests nothing. I think your scribblings are sad and a bit pathetic, I’m afraid.

  • Thomas Barber

    Clifton interface is Franks turf, unless of course your suggesting Clifton street is no where near Unity Flats or Donegal street.

  • Pete

    You are rather jumping to conclusions here.

  • Discuscutter

    The man who put Haughey bang in power as soon as he could guarantee more power for himself.

    O’Malley has a lot to answer for and Ireland is worse off for his actions.

  • Thomas Barber

    “Are you not being a little coy, Chris? The former housing minister
    appears to be familiar with some of the ‘community’ activities of Frank ‘the Dipper’ Dempsey”

    If a pensioners past is going to be used as a yardstick in which to discredit him then the same logic must be applied to Nelson Mc Causland.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_Loyalist_Central_Co-ordinating_Committee.

    Are we to believe McCausland wouldn’t tell any untruths about his true agenda at those meetings in Clifton orange hall, I suppose we could ask Jim Allister –

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/dup-minister-nelson-mccausland-has-to-quit-insist-fellow-unionists-30458116.html

  • the keep

    Ah good old Ryan is there an anti unionist bandwagon you are not prepared to jump on?

  • the keep

    That’s very generous of you to suggest that Republicans are capable of sectarian acts that shocks me to my very core.

  • Nevin

    “a lengthy housing waiting list”

    I’d have thought that the tussle for community control in areas such as North Belfast would rank much higher as a party political priority than the needs of ordinary people.

  • babyface finlayson

    Certainly this seems a bit dodgy from the information presented here.
    However I don’t see how it has any bearing on Gerry Kelly’s blatant sectarian electioneering last year, unless two wrongs make a right.
    Kelly’s leaflet as I recall was more than simply “illustrating the religious demography” as Chris disingenuously suggests. It was a clear call to vote on a purely sectarian basis from which SF rightly backpedalled at the speed of light

  • Jollyraj

    Oops…wrong site. I was looking for Slugger, not An Phoblacht.

  • congal claen

    Hi Ryan,

    “No one was calling all Unionists sectarian Jarl…”

    Err, except you just have. From your post to myself above…

    “Its not jumping to conclusions to assume sectarian intent when it comes to Unionism in general…”

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    So when you said unionism “in general” is sectarian: so that’s ‘mostly’, ‘normally’, predominantly. As you it seems are the go-to guy on this subject what percentage do you think is infected by this sectarian gene at unionism’s “core”?

    Perhaps whilst mulling over that you’d also answer what aspect of the Catholic liturgy you think unionists have the biggest problem with? Is it the old transubstantiation thing, papal infallibility?

    I’m guessing it can’t be as simple as the broad correlation between Catholicism and nationalism in contemporary NI? Much like the corresponding link between unionism and Protestantism in society.

    Yet opposition to unionists and unionism isn’t sectarian, but opposition to nationalists and nationalism is.

    No that’d be all too easy. Who’d use lazy religious labelling when actually meaning to define political or cultural differences?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Thomas, (whataboutery alert) there is already a precedent in norn iron politics of judging a pensioner by his past, an infamous example being the octogenarian sir Norman stronge when he was murdered in tynan Abbey.

    (But yes, i wouldn’t believe a word Hawf Nelson says, i hold him in the deepest contempt personally ).

  • congal claen

    Hi Ryan,

    Having read some more of your posts, are you really a unionist masquerading as a nationalist to give nationalism a bad name? I’m having trouble believing that you, or indeed many nationalists hold such views. If you’re genuine I find that very disappointing.

  • Reader

    But Thomas, you missed the point that the building work is planned in an interface – the Parades commission put restrictions on a republican procession last year *because* it was in an interface:
    “The Commission has considered that all parades in the area of Clifton Street including the Unsung Heroes Commemoration Committee parade, have a potentially adverse impact on community relations. All parades in this sensitive area have a high potential for public disorder. For these reasons, the Commission has determined that conditions are required. The Commission has determined that a single drumbeat is the appropriate condition for this parade over the stretch of route between the junction of Carrick Hill and Clifton Street and the junction of Stanhope Street and Clifton Street.”
    (Reference number PAR66947)

  • Jollyraj

    Excellent point. Perhaps they feature a built-in persecution complex under the gable?

  • Thomas Barber

    Good for you AG Im sure McCausland give a b……. what you said. However if what I said is whataboutery then surely its whataboutery from Nevin and others too as Im simply reponding to the points made about Frank Dempseys past when the topic is about the DUP and Nelson McCausland.

    Did you even bother reading the other posts ?

  • Thomas Barber

    What interface would that be Reader, I come from that area and I can assure you the only interface is at Carlisle Circus which is at the junction of Antrim road, Crumlin road, and the top end of Clifton street. The Westlink would seperate the the planned building site and the Orange hall including any interface area.

  • Korhomme

    So, are representatives from a community acting in the best interests of all their constituents, or just for those with the appropriate political values?

  • Jollyraj

    Yegads! Is everything being blamed on unionism these days??? Republicans don’t do sectarianism? Did you miss the IRA campaign, then?

  • Jollyraj

    Who would you vote for in NI?

  • Chingford Man

    This article and many of the responses to it illustrate the problems faced by Irish republicans.

    Some of the wiser republicans realise that they can never win a united Ireland on the back of the old rhetoric and attitudes. But any attempts they make at “outreach” falter because many other more vocal republicans can’t resist stirring the sectarian pot like Chris Donnelly or retreating into victim mode like Ryan.

  • Chingford Man

    Coffin dodger McKee is a notorious IRA thug who has no problem with people being blown to bits at a bus station. If all you’ve got against McCausland is a minor contretemps at Stormont and being named by a discredited author as some sort of super paramilitary godfather, you’d be better off keeping silent.

  • Zig70

    It’s a mindset that put a flame to the troubles and with it still there gives the opportunity to re-ignite it.

  • Zig70

    This article and many of the responses to it illustrate the problems faced by Irish republicans.

    Some of the wiser republicans realise that they can win a united Ireland on the back of the current rhetoric and attitudes.

    We need more like McCausland to get the apathetic blood going. There is a real anger at actions like this, though SF’s approach seems to be to smile and let it fester rather than create a fuss over it.

  • Chingford Man

    LOL!

  • John Collins

    That was due to how the people voted. It was there choice. Actually Ireland is worse for off Mary Harney’s action but I doubt if Dessie, not that I ever voted for him, did that much harm to the country, apart from playing a part in reducing the then absurd tax rate endured by ordinary workers.

  • John Collins

    Joolyraj
    Probably the Alliance Party, or perhaps the SDLP. I would not agree with some of either of their policies, but I would always vote, as the vote was denied to ordinary people, of all hues, for centuries and should always be exercised.

  • congal claen

    Hi Raj,
    I’m unionist myself. Ryan’s posts seem just too easy to tear apart. Most other nationalist posters seem much more considered.

  • Old Mortality

    What exactly is this housing crisis in north Belfast? Are there people sleeping in the streets? If so why can’t they look for somewhere to live elsewhere in Belfast or even further afield? Does their employment depend on them living in north Belfast?

  • Robin Keogh

    The efforts of some Unionists politiicians to stop Catholics getting houses in NB has been an issue for some time, that along with the Orange order buying up land so the taigs cant get their hands on it tells us that the discriminatory mentality of the old regime hasn’t gone away you know.

  • Charlie Farlie

    It makes me chuckle at many on here, who for the past while have been trying an academic approach to convince us all that a lot of Unionism is not based around sectarianism. No No, it is simply a misunderstood moderate ideology that has the best interests of all the citizens here at heart.

    There are just too many examples to contradict this nonsense prior to above article being a thought bubble in Chris’ head. Faux outrage is now being presented as the response to the accusation that Unionism tends to protect Orangeism and Loyalism above all else. I actually don’t mind that they do, its who they are. But please spare us the measly defence of Nelson Mc Causland as a saintly advocate for equality – I may just regurgitate my dinner.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Thomas, MY point was a whataboutery, not yours.

    Yours was quite valid, i was just feeling quite ‘fleggy’ and knew I was doing it but couldn’t help myself….

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Maybe Chris needs to investigate a little bit more internally ? He may find his good old friend “Dipper” is not flavour of the month with what do they call it “Mainstream Republicism” Ahh…. but he may not be a friend after all but only a pawn in the game of using his statement and name to create sectarian stories of getting Usuns out to Vote more than Themons. Boy ! The Shin Machine up in Connelly House must be getting really concerned what the activists are reporting back from the doors in the heartlands of North Belfast !
    We await next weeks further comic edition from Chris only it will be West Belfast and what can be cooked up around the Old Mackies site !
    The Sinn Fein Leopard Never changes it’s Spots ! Sectarianism at it’s sly and foxy best !

  • Zig70

    If the basic accusation is right that McCausland promoted restricting housing to those in most need based on their religion then there should be a law against it, if there isn’t already. If the SDLP wanted a civil rights cause to run with then I can’t see a better one. Off all the immoral acts we have pointed the finger at politicians for in recent months then I don’t see a lower one. I’m a bit annoyed that more hasn’t been made of it, also bet Jim Allister won’t be shining a light in dark corners on this one. The attempts in comments at humorous deflection is a bit sick. The Detail article is worth a read.

  • murdockp

    An what about the 60% of the population who are neither

  • congal claen

    Hi Zig,

    The most important word in your post was the first one.

  • Granni Trixie

    The doctors practice I attended throughout the troubles is situated on Clifton Street. It was their proud boast that because of where the surgery was situated they served patients across the community. Furthermore, on occasion when I popped into the newspaper/light grocery shop further along Clifton Street I noticed that they sold both “Republican” and “Loyalist” local newspapers and that there there was a notice in window concerning timings of buses to the jails for each if these groupings.

  • Granni Trixie

    Thomas
    What you say is not incompatible with my view based on limited knowledge of the area ( see above) namely that there is willingness and potential to develop a mixed community in that area.

  • Zig70

    That is just dodging the fact that a serious accusation has been made. From the Detail article it isn’t unsubstantiated. Why would you dodge investigating someone for restricting housing to the most needy based on their religion? That’s low.

  • congal claen

    Hi Robin,

    I suggest you read the article “discrimination in housing and employment under the stormont administration” from the Cain website.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    And what would happen once the houses got built to this stage ! YES ! This picture below !
    Mill Road – Felden – North Belfast – October 2015
    PRODS KEEP OUT !

  • Nevin

    Thomas, I’m sure there’s something in what Frank says but my jibe was directed at Chris’ coyness.

    A trawl of news reports and blogs would suggest that sometime ‘concerned resident’ Frank is a member of the greater republican family. Is he one of Gerry’s ‘good republicans’ or a member of Martin’s ‘micro groups’? The Athboy strategy, which was exploited post-1994, may still have a strong attraction for both categories – despite the ‘reaching out’ rhetoric. In the political realm, unionists and nationalists still tend to not wanting ‘one of themuns’ about the place.

    However, a number of nationalist residents groups at several key flashpoints, which are not aligned to Sinn Fein, were not invited to those [2013 Cardiff] talks. Carrick Hill residents spokesman Frank Dempsey, whose group is opposed to loyal order marches past the area and nearby St Patrick’s Church, expects little to come out of the talks. .. source

    Perhaps Chris can shed additional light on fragmentation of the republican family, including the role of ‘residents collectives’.

  • Daragh

    This is the kind of behaviour I fully expect from Nelson McCausland and it would remind one of Nelson’s behaviour regarding the Girdwood site where plans came forward based upon a criteria based on need in the local area which presented a big problem for Nelson as there were far too many people from a Catholic background on the local housing list. Nelson therefore ensured those plans were redone with an emphasis on green sites and a cross community mix, rather than actual need. The fact that this approach will potentially ensure a slender majority for his pal Dodds was completely coincidental of course.
    Whats the definition of Gerrymandering again?

  • congal claen

    I have read the Detail article. I do not seem to be drawing the same conclusion as you do. Although not clear, if anything it seems to be Nigel Dodds is claiming that the NIHE is pushing people out of Belfast and that he’s accusing them of Gerrymandering.

  • brinksman

    Thank the gods nationalists have Unionist Sinn Fein working so hard for them!

  • Jollyraj

    I think a link to that would bring a necessary dose of fact to this thread.

  • Jollyraj

    Goodness me! Here I was thinking that only unionists did that sort of thing….

  • Neil

    No, it happens on both sides. Just 13 times more often it’s a Loyalist flag.

  • congal claen

    Hi Raj,

    Link attached. The sad thing is this has been pointed out many times before by different posters. Yet the same false accusations continue to be made…

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/discrimination/gudgin99.htm

  • Jollyraj

    Thank you. I think you’re right, a key part of the Republican strategy seems to revolve around sheer, blind repitition of untruths, betting on wearing people down to the point that we all forget what really went on.

  • Thomas Barber

    Im responding to the points made about Frank Dempsey’s past not someone called McKee but if you like I could post you up lots of pictures and articles showing Nelson McCausland standing shoulder to shoulder with with members of the UVF the same people who murdered dissident UVF member Bobby Moffett he and Nigel Dodds also attended Moffetts funeral.

    Maybe you should do a little more research before you jump to defend those who run with the foxes and hunt with the hounds.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10234210

  • Chingford Man

    Oh please don’t because:

    (a) I’m bored with your petty tribal navel-gazing and wouldn’t be reading it anyway, and;

    (b) the thread about manufacturing industry is of much greater importance to people’s livelihoods than who may or may not have been standing next to Nelson McCausland.

    Why don’t you try commenting on that?

  • Kev Hughes

    Well, they are 13 times more likely to do things such as that, tbf.

  • Gingray

    Aww Chris
    You have stirred up the Unionist mob here. Cue allegations that things under the old one party state were not that bad, they treated Catholics great, and the customary link to a Cain article with more holes in it than the Union flags on the Woodstock road.

    You will never convince them that housing discrimination exists – so despite more Catholics on the waiting list, McCausland went with a 1 for 1 policy.

    Unfortunately in Northern Ireland successive governments have let down the poorest people, right up to the present day. And in North Belfast they are disproportionatly Catholic.

    Not that the DUP care, they want to win elections and get power, and will do anything, be it discrimination in housing, or becoming besties with Sinn Fein after years of saying Never Never Never.

  • murdockp

    They are in for a wake up call when the Chinese start buying up their farms. This is happening now as the sense Rich pickings here north and south. The question will be are they protestant Chinese or Catholic Chinese. Only time will tell.

  • Zig70

    We do see things with our own baggage. The housing executive was established as a control on housing discrimination and is supposed to be independent, making it’s decisions based on need and not political influence. This isn’t McCausland and Dodds being normal politicians protecting their nest, they are overstepping their remit and compromising the independence of the HENI. It is key we don’t repeat past mistakes.

  • Thomas Barber

    Why dont you practice your own advice then Chingford Man.

    As for Shorts/Bombairdier. Well Im sure their missle factory will be fine although they may beef up their security when these people are about –

    http://www.irishnews.com/news/2015/10/01/news/dup-s-mla-breaks-silence-on-dad-s-ulster-resistance-links-278292/

  • Hugh Davison

    What do you mean? Who .’they’? ‘Gable’? Sorry, I’m mystified

  • Jollyraj

    If the Chinese are coming (!) as you suggest, then I suspect they’d more likely be pro-union. So happy days. Sadly, I suspect that ship sailed in the early 90’s.

  • Jollyraj
  • barnshee

    What employment?

  • submariner

    My My the boards Uncle Andy strikes again. That’s right Barnshee those lazy Catholics don’t work but live on benefits whilst having Huge families. You, probably like Sammy Wilson think Taigs don’t pay rates either. You really need to address your bigotry before it consumes you.