“A number of items have been removed for examination…”

The BBC report that police have searched an office at the Policing Board headquarters and the home of the board’s chairman Barry Gilligan.  From the report

In a statement, the PSNI said: “Searches have been conducted in Belfast as part of an investigation into matters concerning development land at Nelson Street in Belfast city centre.

“A number of items have been removed for examination from an office and a house.”

A spokeswoman for the Policing Board said it could confirm that a search was carried out as part of an ongoing investigation.

The Housing Executive had previously asked the police to investigate its role in a site at Nelson Street, in north Belfast – which is now owned by the development company, Big Picture Developments – one of whose directors is the chairman of the Policing Board, Barry Gilligan.

In March this year police searched the offices of Big Picture Developments as part of an investigation into the role of the Housing Executive in the site.

A Big Picture spokesman [had then] said the company was “assisting the PSNI as part of a wider investigation it is carrying out”.

“We want to make it absolutely clear that none of our directors, or staff, have done anything wrong and we are assisting the PSNI fully so that they can confirm this as soon as possible,” he added.

Update  From a BBC report

In a statement [Barry Gilligan] said: “My fellow directors and I have made, and continue to make, ourselves and our company files totally available to the PSNI in order to clear matters up as speedily as possible, confident that we will be completely vindicated.

“To that end, I will voluntarily meet the PSNI in the coming days at a mutually convenient time.”

Mr Gilligan said he had to take temporary leave as chairman of the Policing Board due to impending heart surgery and had hoped to return before the end of the summer.

“But in light of the recent activity by the PSNI, my coronary condition and the dignity of the office of chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, I feel that I should not return to the role at this time,” he said.

Mr Gilligan added he would seek support to return as chairman at a board meeting on 2 September.

, , , , , , , , ,

  • DC

    Nobody has done anything wrong – except attracting a stigma associated with the claims levelled at the policing board chair for playing a role in a gazumping-of-sorts of a social housing project in favour of Big Picture Developments, a private profit-motivated company.

    It is only a stigma because of the potential conflict of interests. The policing board chair has in taking up his role great social responsibility – yet at the same time being linked to a property company seemingly doing social responsibility down to a secondary position because the primacy of profit seems to have come first.

    Hence Big Picture now owning that land.

  • jtwo

    ‘Nobody has done anything wrong’ – that remains to be seen.

    However we should wish Barry a speedy return to full health. And also the senior person at the Housing Executive who has also been off work with some sort of malady of late.

    This letter of objection to the Nelson Street plan was recently added to the file. Massively redacted.

    http://epicdocs.planningni.gov.uk/ViewDocument.aspx?uri=95808&ext=PDF

  • Pete Baker

    Update From a BBC report

    In a statement [Barry Gilligan] said: “My fellow directors and I have made, and continue to make, ourselves and our company files totally available to the PSNI in order to clear matters up as speedily as possible, confident that we will be completely vindicated.

    “To that end, I will voluntarily meet the PSNI in the coming days at a mutually convenient time.”

    Mr Gilligan said he had to take temporary leave as chairman of the Policing Board due to impending heart surgery and had hoped to return before the end of the summer.

    “But in light of the recent activity by the PSNI, my coronary condition and the dignity of the office of chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, I feel that I should not return to the role at this time,” he said.

    Mr Gilligan added he would seek support to return as chairman at a board meeting on 2 September.

  • Cynic

    This is truly shocking letting wicked developers buy and develop this land.

    It would have been much better to have this developed as chic waterside apartments and houses in the social housing sector. These could have been occupied by ‘deserving families’ from the New Lodge and I am sure that ‘local representatives’ would have been very happy to advise NIHE on who was most deserving.

    Of course, those deserving families could in due course have exercised their right to buy at a deep discount funded by cheap loans from some local philanthropists, as so many more in North Belfast have already done.Indeed, in due course those philanthropists might have themselves bought back the properties from the deserving families leaving everyone quids in!!

  • DC

    The social development proposers went to Gilligan for help and disclosed the opportunities they had for social housing to him.

    Basically they gave him the heads up in doing so.

    If it were everyone for themselves on an open battlefield of competitive bidding for the plot then I might be able to offer up some tough luck sympathy to the community / social housing group. But instead I am hostile towards the chair of the policing board for being fleet of foot.

    I guess it’s easier to seal the deal if you know how and have access to the wherewithall – Big Picture Developments – and indeed aren’t bogged down in your proposal by having heavily regulated social housing authorities in tow.

  • sammymehaffey

    It is a sad reflection on the honour or lack of it in our breed of property developers.
    I guess property developers are really parasites.
    they buy land.
    they screw builders down on price and the sell the resulting property at an inflated price.
    In fact they add nothing
    they just take.
    happily some have paid the price for excessive greed.
    Or rather their bankers have.
    Or should i say we have.
    Oh dear.

  • iluvni

    Did I really hear the DUP’s Spratt, in an oh-so-serious voice, saying that Mr Gilligan should stand aside whilst the police investigation continutes, no matter how long it takes?

    Just like his dear leader then….

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    It stinks.

  • Belfast Paul

    As I heard it the land had already obtained planning for 60, or so units (without a social housing restriction). The land went on the market and Big Picture bought it.