Two Unionist parties, two different futures?

In today’s Irish News ‘returned native’ Fionnuala O’Connor raises an important point about the various responses from the local parties to the attack on a house in the Village where four Hungarian women lived:

The two main parties took very different positions. A DUP councillor and an MLA were clear in their criticism and admiring of the work immigrants do. Christopher Stalford and Jimmy Spratt were forthright by contrast with Ulster Unionists. Bob Stoker was reported as “wholehearted” agreeing with a community worker in the Village whose concern was to point out that attacks, including this one, had not happened in the middle Donegall Road, known as the Village but in another section of the road. Careless journalists had unfairly smeared the Village. Mr Stoker has made similar points before.

Hmmm… Now it is understandable that Mr Stoker will find this frustrating. Not least since events in west Belfast like the so-called Ballymurphy Pogroms, which over a single six month period saw something in the region of 500 attacks, very few of which emerged in the wider media.

But in the light of Mr Cameron’s pitch to the Ulster Unionists is that the ‘New Force’ gives the voters an opportunity to participate in democracy from the council chamber to the cabinet table, this is not a indication that his new partners on the ground in Northern Ireland have ‘got’ the new liberal Tory message on the ground…

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  • alan56

    Missing the point here. It is so easy for policicians to issue strong statements from afar.Its good for the optics and a handy quote for journalists. What is important is not what they say….but what they actually do to try and change things. Bob Stoker may not be the most articulate or media savvy representitive but he does live in the area and is involved in various schemes to try and keep the ‘young thugs’ at bay.
    Same cannot be said for Stalford and Spratt.

  • Paul

    I think the pod people have taken over the DUP
    That statement was honest and straight forward and clearly critical of unionism.

    Has the SF taken control of them using hypnosis

  • 6countyprod

    On the morning after the attacks, I heard a politician on BBC condemning the incident, and I thought she was very good in what she said. I think the lady was called Patterson. Is she a local, and what party is she with?

  • picador

    I am glad to see that you have posted on this subject following the disgraceful assault on Chris the other day after he raised it.

    I’m disappointed to see however that you have used that outrageous pejorative term ‘Unionist’ to describe the three S’s, Schutz, Staffel and … oops, I mean Stalford, Spratt and Stoker. 😉

    Not having a subscription to the Irish News i can’t access O’Connor’s article but from the comments attributed to Stoker above it seems to me that he is splitting hairs. He represents all of the Donegall Road from Sandy Row to the Village and whehter this attack took place somewhere in between is hardly relevant – there has been a long history of racist attacks in the area including the Village. It strikes me that he is not very ‘cerebral’ as well as being a reactionary to boot – the type of character who the New Tories would want to steer clear of.

    That Spratt and Stalford were more forthright in their stance is to be welcomed.

  • Paula Bradshaw

    Do you know what might be useful? If someone spoke to Bob Stoker … he was in Portugal over the weekend and did not make any comments in relation to Billy Dickson’s comments. Don’t just assume because you read something in the paper that it is factually correct. Billy Dickson, a former DUP councillor …
    Secondly, it is wonderful when politicians issue press statements – or at least their constituency office does – condemning these attacks; and rightly so. However, not one, I repeat not one, politician has lifted the telephone to me to ask what they could do to help. Actions speak louder than words. The community knows who does the work and who just talks about it.
    Thirdly, and just to be clear Bob Stoker does not represent the mid-Donegall Road – he was elected to Balmoral Ward. The mid-Donegall Road is within the Laganbank Ward.
    Should the question not be: what are the politicians going to do to engage the statutory agencies in a targeted process to eradicate racism??

  • picador

    I stand corrected, Paula.

    Mr Stoker has a tendency to say crass things on these occasions, e.g. when the apartment blocks in Sandy Row come under attack. I guess he had ambitions to become an MLA back then.

    It seems now that it’s a case of nothing to do with my City Council electoral ward, guv.

  • alan56

    Good posting Paula. Seems a comment made remotely from the DUP is now enough to satisfy picador and friends. What is being done on the ground is of much less importance. Oh how things have changed.
    DUP/SF coalition must be preserved at all costs and even the foot soldiers are keeping the line!

  • picador


    It is the very minimum to be expected in such circumstances.

    Glass half full rather than glass half empty.

    Don’t know what you’re on about with regard to ‘foot soldiers’. What are you – some kind of general?

    I would suggest that the coalition, flawed though it might very well be, is a damn sight better than nothing.

  • Paula Bradshaw

    Another few things …
    1. I wasn’t actually getting at the DUP in particular … I am just frustrated that politicians have the power to influence the statutory agencies in their delivery of public services, especially in times of crisis, and yet the silience is deafening.
    2. It may have seemed that I defended Bob Stoker, over the former-DUP councillor (who I’ve been informed is no longer a DUP member) … I was merely pointing out that trying to draw a distinction between UUP and DUP over their stance on this issue is disingenuous, and to further reference the UUP-Tory link up was a poor attempt at creating an illusion of discord between the two Parties, when both are absolutely unified in their positions over the recent incidents.
    3. This is not a time for petty politics … the Donegall Road / Village community is in need of serious intervention and *all* political parties have it within their power to support the healing process.

  • slug

    Paula thanks for this contribution. You know what is going on there.

    I was going to post, earlier on, in response to FOC’s attempt to draw distinctions between the two parties. Then I decided FOC’s contribution was not worthy of a response. As you rightly say “to further reference the UUP-Tory link up was a poor attempt at creating an illusion of discord between the two Parties, when both are absolutely unified in their positions over the recent incidents.”

  • Fair Deal

    I asked these questions on the previous thread. Thoughts welcome.

    “A number of approaches have been followed in the area but they don’t seem to be have worked. Why has it not? Were the programmes crap? Was it too small scale? Has the housing issue not been neutralised? Was it not getting to those whose actions and opinions need to be changed?”

  • Paula Bradshaw

    Fair Deal,
    Yes, there are, and have been in the past, many initiatives to improve the integration of immigrants into the area. However, you will know from your work in the community that there are many people who do not engage in such programmes.
    The amount of efforts that have gone into these “welcome your neighbour”, community relations, etc. programmes has been sizeable, but don’t forget organisations, like my own, were set up to deal with housing, health & well-being, employability … the issue of community relations is a recent one that we were not designed to tackle and have had to quickly re-adjust to try to incorporate. So yes, the approaches to date now have been too small, but the community sector in this area doesn’t have the expertise nor the resources to deal with the issue adequately. I’ve made many appeals over the last few weeks for politicians and statutory agencies to stop standing back wondering what could be done without actually attempting to engage.
    Re the issue of housing – only 40% of the housing in the Village Urban Renewal Area is being redevelopment – the URA is only about 15% of the total area of the Village / Donegall Road. However, 20% of housing in the whole area is owned by landlords, which is far higher than most comparable working class areas. It is understandable why new arrivals to Belfast opt to live in this area due to the lower levels of rent, proximity to the City centre, etc. however, the other side of the story is that a very small minority of the residents do cause trouble through late-night parties, etc. which aggrevates the “locals” … thereby adding fuel to their complaint that they are losing their area, slowly but surely.
    It is without question necessary that community groups / leaders need to challenge themselves and those they come in contact with to see what they could do to improve the *marriage* between the indigenous population and the migrant workers. This is happening … debates are taking place throughout the area; much work is done to encourage ideas for the drafting of a community relations strategy, etc. We just need time and support to deliver this process.

  • picador

    Au contraire,

    Referencing the UUP-Tory link up is highly relevant to politics in general here. The Tories claim they are going to bring us ‘new’ politics free of tribal intolerance, etc. But by linking up with with the UUP they are getting into bed with a party which has an underbelly of intolerance within its ranks.

    A prime example would be Mr Stoker who can always be relied on for crass diversionary comments when Chinese people, Catholics and now eastern Europeans come under attack in the Donegall Road area.

    Now when will UCUNF take a firm line against these attacks?

  • alan56

    Surely the point here is that in order to be helpful in this situation politicians have to get down and involved with people at local level to try and instigate new ideas, challenge stereotypical views and lead, yes lead. They should also be pressurising the ministers who hold the purse strings to engage. Just issuing catchy press releases or delivering ‘soundbites’ is not real engagement.

  • SM


    Did you not read Paula’s comment above where she pointed out that it was not true that Bob Stoker actually made the comment attributed to him in the initial article? The CUs are utterly opposed to these attacks, as are all right minded folk, and I haven’t seen anything to suggest to the contrary, and nor do I expect to.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    It seems we have a few people on here who make up statements and policies for other parties that accord with what they would like them to be.

    I have no doubt that the CU’s are totally opposed to these attacks in any shape or form as they welcome people from all backgrounds which would include Hungarians and any other nationalities.

  • picador

    SM, FD, A56, etc.

    At a basic minimum all parties should condemn these type of attacks outright with no equivocation.

    I did not have access to the O’Connor’s full article so I do not know the entire context for Paula’s remarks.

    However I do know that Mr Stoker has had a disgraceful record on these kinds of attacks in the past. I also know that he is UCUNF’s local representative.

    And I also know that UCUNF online supporters attacked Chris Donnelly when he highlighted these attacks a couple of days ago.

    As someone who braodly welcomes David Cameron’s talk of a tolerant society – but is highly sceptical of the UUP’s ability to deliver on it locally – I want to know:

    How are UNCUNF using their influence to prevent attacks on Catholics, Asians and eastern Europeans in south Belfast?

  • Le Corbusier

    And, for what it’s worth, said councillor works for the GVRT:

  • fin

    As subs are req for the Irishnews article I dunno if Stoker is mentioned, but he is in the Newsletter’s coverage of the story, international roaming on mobile phones means location is not relevant to having a cellphone conversation, as a fellow party member Paula have you spoken to Bob and has he said he did not comment.

    It does seem to be a bit of a troubled area all the same, with some dodgy electioneering going on at times

  • Billy Dickson

    I read in the Belfast News Letter that Bob Stoker wholehearted agreed with my statement on behalf of Blackstaff Community Development Association. I tried to make it clear in my statement where the Village is located in relation to the greater Donegall Road. I regret to say that some people are still confused as Mick Fealty refers to the middle Donegall Road as being the Village. I shall point out again, the Village is part of the Blackstaff Ward and Middle Donegall Road is part of the Laganbank Ward. Perhaps it would help if you reported our full statement which is as follows:

    The incident involving an attack on a house occupied by Hungarian nationals on Thursday night 16th April was reported constantly in the media as having happened in the Village area. The Blackstaff Community Development Association would like to make it clear that the incident happened in what is known as Middle Donegall Road and not the Village. To add to the confusion Councillor Ruth Patterson was interviewed as a representative of the area in which the incident took place. Middle Donegall Road is part of the Laganbank Ward which Councillor Patterson does not represent. The people of the Donegall Road understand that the Village is generally believed to be all the streets connected to Lower Broadway and part of the Blackstaff Ward. This might not seem important to those living outside the area, but it is very important to all who live in the Village. It’s about time the press and everyone else stopped using the Village name when referring to any incident in the greater Donegall Road area.
    Unfortunately, the area has been smeared as a racialist community were foreigners are not welcome. We could give many examples to prove that this is simply not the case. There are those within the community who are raciest but no more than can be said for any other area in Belfast. The reason why there has been more incidents involving foreigners is simply because there are more of them living in the Donegall Road area than most other working class areas. The majority of the incidents followed the match between Northern Ireland and Poland and as Windsor Park, is where the match was played, it stands to reason why so many incidents happened in the area adjacent to the ground. It is completely wrong to smear the area as racialist. The PSNI have already made it clear that the trouble was started by Polish fans who came to Northern Ireland simply to cause trouble.

    Yours sincerely,

    Billy Dickson


    Blackstaff Community Development Association

    Tel: 90292631

    Mobile: 07974315293

  • picador

    BBC 9.4.09 – in response to Polish Association claims of 40 Polish nationals intimidated out of homes.

    Councillor Stoker said: “While I would obviously condemn attacks on people wherever they’re from, I’m greatly concerned about people bandying figures like this about without any solid evidence.


    An Phoblacht 6.5.04 after rally against Catholics in Sandy Row

    UUP councillor Bob Stoker claimed the rally was in response to attacks on “Protestants” by “republicans” in Sandy Row. The UUP councillor refused to condemn the leaflet as sectarian, while suggesting that a 500-strong rally calling for Catholic residents to be expelled was not intimidation because he “would like to see them leave voluntarily”.

    “If people [Catholic residents] are going to abuse the residents [of Sandy Row] they have to suffer the consequences,” said Stoker. “I would like them [Catholic residents] to leave voluntarily if they are responsible for the attacks or abuse.”

    Whataboutery, equivocation, you name it…

    I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all but perhaps he should consider Alabama for his next holiday destination.

  • fin

    Picador, not to worry, its not exactly swords into ploughs but AK47s into paintbrushes,

    Yesterday – despite the rain – work was beginning on removing graffiti which sprang up after Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie refused the
    UDA money under the Conflict Transformation Initiative.
    ‘SDLP vs Loyalists’ had been painted across walls in the area and the trust began removing and repainting the graffiti.

    Paula Bradshaw, director of GVRT, said: “We have been working very closely with the community over the last few years to bring about a wide range of environmental improvements – the elimination of the negative markings will provide a welcomed positive contribution to the overall regeneration process taking place.”

    South Belfast councillor Bob Stoker, who is also economic development officer of GVRT, said: “This is part of a combined community initiative to make the area a much more welcoming place for businesses, visitors and the residents themselves.
    “A lot of credit should be given to both paramilitary organisations here – they want to see a more positive image of their community.”

  • randomer

    [i]A lot of credit should be given to both paramilitary organisations here – they want to see a more positive image of their community

    If people [Catholic residents] are going to abuse the residents [of Sandy Row] they have to suffer the consequences[/i]

    That’s more than enough to enduce some vomit from the pits of the stomach. What a petty, hypocritcal little man Stoker is.

  • fin

    Billy as your online can you name the NGO’s and individuals involved in electioneering for Bob

    “Political motivation?

    During the assembly elections 2007, residents in the Blackstaff area received a pack of leaflets. Three of the leaflets (two with the Belfast city council logo) make no mention of the election.

    But the members of Blackstaff Community Development Association were very concerned about the fourth leaflet. The leaflet, asking voters to support the Ulster Unionist councillor Bob Stoker in the assembly election, was signed by people representing local community groups. These groups receive funding from sources, such as the European Union programme for peace and reconciliation.

    It is the view of Blackstaff Community Development Association that community groups should not be seen to support one candidate or party over others. The election is now over and although Stoker was not successful, many people could have voted for him as a result of these leaflets. “

  • Paula Bradshaw

    Point 18. Apologies for the out of dateness of GVRT’s website, but Bob Stoker left GVRT in November 2009.
    Point 19. Yes I did speak to Bob this afternoon – I don’t actually think that’s the point. The website you post is commentary by Billy Dickson, which he was entitled to make. The decision to redevelopment was not GVRT’s – it was DSD’s and NIHE’s – based on the findings of an independent quantity surveyor who reported that there was 34% unfitness in the area; backed up by an economic appraisal carried out by another independent professional. If it was to do with electioneering then how come UUP, DUP, SDLP, SF and Alliance were all involved in lobbying for it?
    Point 22. I stand over this statement. GVRT has made great progress in working with the community on changing the face of the Village area, including, the removal of graffiti, coloured kerbstones, paramilitary murals and gardens, etc. and replacing them with children’s play parks, community gardens, mini-sports pitches, multi-cultural murals. Was your point a criticism???? Is that not what an urban regeneration charity is supposed to be delivering??? We are trying to make sustained differences to the area.

    Is it up to Bob to defend, qualify or rescind his comments, I am certainly not his spokesperson.

  • IJP


    Coming back to the point of your original posting, I have to say the original Irish News article is somewhat misleading.

    To be fair, the UU-Tory link-up only applies at Westminster/European level, not the local level at which Bob Stoker operates. Thus the correlation is redundant.

    The fact that even you seem confused only illustrates the lack of understanding in the public domain about what the link-up really is.

    “Change” is always difficult, never more so than the incredible regeneration process taking place in the Village area (which, for the record, I have been to see for myself…)

  • Enoch was right

    little wonder the Alliance are going to get a trouncing in June. they’re little more than the sandal-wearing wing of the offcial unionists

  • Le Corbusier

    “Change” is always difficult, never more so than the incredible regeneration process taking place in the Village area (which, for the record, I have been to see for myself…)


    You should tell that to the elderly residents who just happen to be on the wrong side of a line on a map and are in fear of losing their homes to “regeneration” in the Village area.

    If only more of our political representatives and senior civil servants had read The Rape and Plunder of the Shankill.

  • fin

    The criticism was around leafet stunt as per my paste.

    As a campaigner against racism have you any thoughts (in a professional capacity) regarding Bobs comments as posted by Picador.

  • picador


    not to worry, its not exactly swords into ploughs but AK47s into paintbrushes

    Except the UDA and UVF haven’t decommissioned a single weapon yet. I wonder what UCUNF are doing on that front? Are the UUP still aligned with the PUP as well?

    “A lot of credit should be given to both paramilitary organisations here – they want to see a more positive image of their community.” – Bob Stoker

    That’s a cracker Bob!

  • Paula Bradshaw

    Le Corbusier, I suspect Ian is referring to the wider regeneration process of which the housing redevelopment is just, albeit a very significant, part. Redevelopment is never easy, and you rightly point out the devastation experienced by the Shankill. The people from the Village area who are opposed to this statutory process will hopefully have lodged objections – their complaints, concerns and fears will be appraised by NIHE, and if it goes to public inquiry later this year, it will be up to the chairman of the tribunal to decide. There is an aspiration that the Village will learn lessons from the Shankill, and Sandy Row, and Donegall Pass, etc. etc. in this process. I appreciate the book referral – I will endeavour to get a copy. In terms of the elderly residents within the redevelopment boundary, I have lobbied intensively to ensure that the needs of this demographic group are at the forefront of the minds of all partners to this process. For example, there’s a new development taking place in Roden Street – eight of the units are two-bed, suitable for the elderly – these were only introduced to the scheme following GVRT’s lobbying.
    Fin – thank you for clarifying your “criticism” – as per my previous posting, Bob Stoker, in his capacity of political representative, made those comments. Those were not made as a (previous-) employee of GVRT … they are for him to stand over.
    I have worked in south Belfast for 12 years and fully appreciate the contribution made by developers in building in areas requiring regeneration … the public sector cannot do this on its own. For an area to rejuvenate itself it requires new blood, fresh thinking, private sector intervention, etc. The contribution made by people from different ethnic backgrounds, with particular reference to south Belfast, is to welcomed and embraced.

  • the joxer

    I don’t think that it is the best use of time for community workers paid from the public purse to argue the bit out during working hours on Slugger or any other political web-site. Some people might conclude that they must have bugger all else to do with their time..

  • Le Corbusier

    There is an aspiration that the Village will learn lessons from the Shankill, and Sandy Row, and Donegall Pass, etc. etc. in this process. I appreciate the book referral – I will endeavour to get a copy.


    If you do get a copy, I wouldn’t take it as a light holiday read! Please feel free to lend it to whomever from the NIHE you happen to come across.

    I suspect a public inquiry is a fairly safe bet as I am aware of many people from the area concerned with the arbitrary nature of the redevelopment proposals.

  • Paula Bradshaw

    The Joxer – the fact that I’m working on a position paper for work at home now, would demonstrate that I can stand over any time I spent contributing to this today. And for the record, I wasn’t “arguing the bit out”, I was demonstrating the inaccuracies of the original story after I received an email alerting me to its content – you have misconstrued my postings. I have never posted on Slugger during the working day before.
    Le Corbusier – just as a matter of interest re the public inquiry – there were more objections to the Intention to Vest notice that the redevelopment boundary didn’t go far enough, than from people opposed to it. The interesting part will be: how this can be reconciled? I feel sorry for the tribunal chairman …!

  • randomer

    Very cheap shot the joxer. What’s Bradshaw supposed to do? Stay quiet on a fundamentally important issue that she works on day in day out over several years when anyone and everyone can add their two cents without having either researched the issue adequately nor understand the facts properly? Further, they posts don’t seem to have been posted during normal working hours.

    Get a grip you petty man.

  • fin

    a bit harsh Joxer, Paula, I agree with your political views or Stokers, but its always good to get the perspective of someone ‘on the ground’ so to speak, hopefully you’ll continue to post on this infested website

  • picador


    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, etc.

    In any case if someone’s job involves regenerating or conveying a positive impression of an area then surely contributing to a public forum to that effect falls is entirely in line with their work remit.

  • slug

    Agree – joxer’s post incredibly petty.

  • fin

    whoops thats *don’t* agree.

    And yes she was randomer, same as a lot of people here do, Soooooooooooo what, our bosses tend to get their pound of flesh regardless

  • Frank

    I recall Bob Stoker being the only person in South Belfast not to have seen the ‘Yellow Invasion’ leaflet distributed to every home in The Donegall Pass area a number of years ago.

    The leaflet threatened the Chinese community.

    “The Chinese only take from our community and provide nothing for it.”

    “Condemning media reports of racist attacks as ‘anti-Protestant’ propaganda, the leaflets state: “If a racist is someone who puts their own people, culture and heritage first with a will to preserve their community , then we should be proud to be branded a racist, for this is our duty.

    “Rid our community of these Chinese immigrants and clear the way for Protestant families to move in and our young people to remain to contribute in helping to make our community a better place to live.”

  • Hogan

    Am i the only one who thinks Stalford was less than forthcoming in his language of condemnation.

    From recollection he described the incident with the four Hungarian women as “very sad”.

    Now forgive me but i think your cat getting run over would be ‘very sad’ or your granny dying?

    I would have thought naked racism and intimidation of women (just because some poles happened to give Sammy and Billy a taste of their own at the last home game) within your local community would have been met with adjectives like vile, disgusting, intolerable etc?

    A spineless vote hedging statement at its worst!

  • Guppy

    There is an inherent contradiction in ‘community’ as a concept when it comes to housing. To create a vibrant community means instilling a sense of group identity which will then find a difficulty with incomers.

    This is just a fact and shouting about racism from the leafy suburbs or mono-ethnic nationalist Belfast is simply point scoring and adds nothing to encouraging live and let live.

    This of course reduces the cohesion of the very community people are trying to grow…

  • Billy Dickson

    Blackstaff Homeowners’ Association,would take some encouragement from the views of Le Corbusier.

    “…You should tell that to the elderly residents who just happen to be on the wrong side of a line on a map and are in fear of losing their homes to “regeneration” in the Village area. If only more of our political representatives and senior civil servants had read The Rape and Plunder of the Shankill.”

    As local residents who live in the streets under the proposed redevelopment, we would like it to be known that we no not need outsiders to tell us what we need and what is good for us. If I may quote Sylvia,Nelson: “Our homes belong to us, to no-one else. It is not up to anyone to decide where, what, when and how we live.”

    We understand that over 100 letters of objection have been sent to the DSD against the vesting application. Some readers might be interested in our objections, so for I will briefly list a few.

    The Northern Ireland Housing Executive have failed to consult the Blackstaff Homeowners’ Association, which was formed formed in 1999, to oppose redevelopment and to support the retention of terraced housing. In stark contrast NIHE gave Greater Village Regeneration Trust ( a non-elected group which supported 100% redevelopment) the authority to carry out a consultation process in the area.

    The Homeowners believe that the so-called consultation process has failed to be transparent, inclusive and democratic and has regrettably lead to the alienation of a large section of the Blackstaff community.

    Local homeowners have been subjected to an unrelenting campaign against them, causing many to be ‘cowed’ into silence. This might have a bearing on the number of written objections although we understand that over 100 letters have been lodged with the DSD.

    We believe that there is no justifiable reason to vest our property.

    For too long, outsiders (those not living in the streets that make up the Village URA) have been given a considerable say in what should happen to OUR homes. Objections to our case against full redevelopment should only be valid by those who own property within the proposed redevelopment area. We intend to find out if only local people and property owners within the proposed redevelopment area have the legal right to object or agree to the vesting application.
    There is no need to demolish such a large area of housing which we view as arbitrary.

    The scheme proposes demolishing perfectly good houses along with some that might be seen as in poor condition.

    We do not regard our homes as being unfit for human habitation.

    Adverse publicity in the media of poor housing, does not relate to our homes or the majority of homes in the proposed redevelopment area.

    The claim by Paddy McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Housing Executive that the vast majority of houses are over 100 years is not true. There is NOT one house in the proposed redevelopment area which is 100 year old.

    The option to keep and refurbish the terraced houses within an overall design was never put forward as an option for consideration.

    It is our belief that the older generation are to be sacrificed for a younger generation.

    The redevelopment scheme will cause neighbours to be rehoused away from each other.

    These are only a few of our objections and we would also suggest that anyone wishing to get a clear view of what our homes look like, should go to Goggle Street view sightings on the web. The streets that come under the proposed redevelopment area and those in the proposed improvement area can be seen on the web site, Compare what you see with the written statement by the the NICHE in May 2008, that when they surveyed homes in the Village area they found that one in three homes was unfit, one in five was vacant and there were very high levels of disrepair.

  • picador

    Would the Roden St area be considered part of the Village? The streets between Tates Avenue and Windsor Park?

    Also guppy, who told you that leafy suburbs or nationalist areas are mono-ethnic? They’re not.
    Immigration brings ‘challenges’ but mob rule is not the way to deal with them.

  • Fair Deal


    You have to remember there is no ‘official’ place as the Village. Roden Street area tends to be seen as separate from the Village. The bit between Tates and Windsor is more of a grey area and depend on who you talk to. If you ask people to define it they tend to use the Donegall Road, railway line and Westlink/Boucher as the markers.

    The Village was originally the name of only a few streets in the area but it’s broader adoption was to do with the Troubles. Army maps were produced that the local names they had picked up added and in the case of the Village it got applied to a larger area. So in any press stuff it would refer to the Village area and through time this became the new adopted definition. Same happened in Tigers Bay in North Belfast.

  • Billy Dickson

    In answer to Picador who asked the question,”Would the Roden St area be considered part of the Village? The streets between Tates Avenue and Windsor Park?” The short answer is no. Perhaps Picador and other readers would like more information, if so, here goes: Part of the Blackstaff Ward in South Belfast is known as the Village. It is often asked how the area first became known as the Village. Mr Mason, a long time resident who recently left the area, informed me that it was first used by the US Army who had a base at Maldon Street and Rydalmere Street off the Donegall Road. The base at Maldon Street (now a school) was used by “black” soldiers and they could be heard by locals singing songs of “the south”. Shops in lower Broadway were allowed to open on Sundays to provide a limited range of goods to the soldiers such as milk, bread and I think they were also allowed to sell sweets. From their base the soldiers talked about going over to the village. Of course the name is not an official one and many who live in the area that would be decribed as the Village do not like the name. Most don’t remember it ever been called the Village until the “troubles” from about 1969. The Light Infantry Regiment distributed a leaflet entitled “To the People of the Village”. Some remember it as “Chinatown” and the name had nothing to do with the Chinese. In a letter in the Belfast Telegraph (date?) the writer said that he first heard it used in the late 1950s when there was fighting between youths from Sandy Row and Lower Broadway at amusements outside Windsor Football ground. As one who lives in the heart of the Village, I don’t mind the name and I like the story about the American G.I.’s calling it the Village. The Village is one of five clearly defined sections of the Blackstaff Ward on the Donegall Road. I believe it was first called Village because of the row of shops in the middle of surrounding streets. It looks like a village in the same way a section of Stranmillis Road is referred to as a village. I also believe that most residents object to the greater Donegall Road area being called the Village. Most people who live in the Lower Broadway area do not really mind the name Village although some have voiced strong objections to it. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a resident’s questionnaire to find out what name they would like. I would suggest a compromise with the old and new name together, “Lower Broadway Village“. Finally to make it absolutely clear for everone, the Village is bordered by Donegall Avenue, Frenchpark Street, Glenmachan Street and Donegall Road with Lower Broadway running from Donegall Avenue to Glenmachan Street. Hope this is helpful.

  • picador

    Cheers for the info Billy and FD.

    I like the story about the American soldiers.

    When I was learning to drive some years back my instructor would take me around the Village. It is an area that has a bit of character, particularly the old terraces around Broadway. Hopefully some of that character can be retained during the forthcoming redevelopment. While the housing in the modern estates around Belfast is undoubtably of higher quality than the old two-up, two-downs some of the redeveloped areas seem lacking in soul.

    But hey, I don;t live in one so what do I know!

  • Big Maggie

    First: I do so apologize for taking this off topic.

    Believe me, my motives are rather OK.

    I’ve just come from “A Tangled Web”, an initiative of failed Ulster politician David Vance.

    Mine is a criticism of a censorship of free speech. Mr Vance has decided that each and every comment to his blog must be vetted – presumably by his good self.

    This situation appears to have arisen when those like myself who do not subscribe to a racist/sectarian/rightwing/unionist agenda comment on “A Tangled Web”.

    Evidently the contributions of those espousing other, more tolerant, views, has disturbed David Vance.

    Interesting. Let’s hope that his present attempt to shanghai the world into his Weltanshaaung is short and not memorable.

  • the joxer

    So really, Billy, what you’re saying is that the Village and Roden Street areas are Poles apart-or indeed Hungarians for that matter.

  • Guppy

    ‘Also guppy, who told you that leafy suburbs or nationalist areas are mono-ethnic? They’re not’ –

    You misunderstand Picador. The leafy suburbs are not mono-ethnic, just mono-income while nationalist areas are almost exclusively Catholic, for various reasons.