Unionists have expressed their support for a residents’ group which has called for a social housing development to be “filled up with people from the loyalist/unionist community”.
A supposedly non-sectarian residents’ association faced criticism this week over a Facebook post encouraging unionists to meet with a DUP councillor about new housing.
The Seymour Hill and Conway Residents group told people to “call in to see councillor Jonathan Craig” about the development of a site at an old school in Dunmurry in south-west Belfast, adding: “Please get yourself on the list and let’s get these houses filled up with people from [the] loyalist/unionist community.”
Nationalist parties branded the remarks “extremely disappointing” and “disgraceful”.
SDLP Lisburn councillor Johnny McCarthy said: “Housing allocation should only ever be on the basis of objective need.
“It is extremely disappointing that we now have political representatives associated with calls to ensure that new housing developments are stacked by one community over another.”
Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Chuilin branded the remarks as “disgraceful”.
Alliance councillor Stephen Martin also described the association’s comments as “deeply troubling” and raised questions over its council funding. The group received more than five thousand pounds in direct government aid this year.
The residents’ group later apologised for using the “wrong vocabulary” and said their message was aimed at local houses “for local people”.
Meanwhile, Saoradh has condemned a decision to convert a former mill in Ardoyne, north Belfast into a retail park, rather than badly needed social housing.
Since replacing the mill, the Hillview Retail Park has struggled to remain open.
“Its sole use has been to facilitate a Sunday market that provides funds directly to the Shankill UVF who collect stall fees and do security,” Saoradh said.
A number of years ago local residents started a campaign to have the site used for social housing due to the high rates of need among the working-class communities in the predominately nationalist area.
Despite this, Belfast City Council recently approved a planning application that would see the site used solely for business use - with the proposed developer described by Saoradh as a “millionaire capitalist” .
“Capitalist enterprises should not, and will not, be allowed to ride roughshod over the rights of local residents to secure adequate and appropriate housing,” they said.
“Republicans will not tolerate three and four generations of families living under one roof, while absentee millionaires profit from Council corruption and planning decisions based on maintaining privileged positions via sectarian headcounts.”