A long time ago on the 20th June 1968 Austin Currie began a sit in protest because Dungannon Rural District Council had allocated a council house to Emily Beattie a 19 year old woman who was the secretary of a local unionist politician. Miss Beattie was given the house ahead of others in greater need.
Today a High Court judgement found that St. Matthew’s Housing Association acted unlawfully over the allocation of housing in Short Strand. Mr Justice Horner said: “I conclude that the allocation of the two-bedroomed units was unlawful. It was not fair and equitable.” The judge also criticised one of the Housing Association Board members, Joe O’Donnell, a former Sinn Fein councillor, for failing to declare an interest in that one of the people allocated a house was his neice. The judge said: “It is contended… J O’Donnell was not in a conflict of interest, actual or apparent, because one of the units was allocated to his niece. I do not agree. It must be remembered that ‘nepotism’ is derived from the Latin word for nephew.”