Former Housing Minister Nelson McCausland opposed houses being built in a nationalist part of his constituency in spite of the area being plagued by a lengthy housing waiting list.
It was reported this week that 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 meetings took place in Clifton Street Orange Hall, where McCausland is a prominent Orangeman.
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.
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. Several weeks after meeting the DUP the association withdrew the housing application.
It comes as little surprise in north Belfast that a DUP minister responsible for housing, fully aware of the housing crisis facing the Catholic community, actively lobbied to prevent homes being built.
“Why were they talking about a housing development within a nationalist area?” asked. local community worker, Frank Dempsey. “It’s quite clear from that meeting this was withdrawn under pressure to facilitate Orange marches coming down Clifton Street.”
After Nigel Dodds’ allegation of ‘lazy sectarianism’ at Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly last year after a row was sparked by the party’s publication of an election leaflet illustrating the religious demography of the north Belfast constituency, the DUP appear to prefer a more active sectarianism.
Documents over the years show the party routinely challenging officials over housing waiting list figures for Catholics and Protestants in North Belfast and closely scrutinising a series of proposals for the building of social housing across the peaceline.