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Homes plan for ex-barracks site

At least 200 new low-cost homes will be built on the site of a former military barracks in north Belfast, the Social Development Minister has announced.

Girdwood Barracks covers 27 acres in a deeply divided part of Belfast.

Margaret Ritchie added she would continue to seek a solution to the overall plan for the site.

"I have instructed the Housing Executive to appoint a housing association to commence the work to build at least 200 new social homes on the Girdwood site, starting immediately," she said.

"I will continue to seek consensus on the overall plan for the site but the housing will now proceed. I also hope that housing on Girdwood will allow us to proceed with the long overdue redevelopment of the adjacent 'Long Streets' area of north Belfast."

The South Down MLA was addressing the SDLP's annual conference in Newcastle, Co Down.

"We will start more new houses this year than has been done in any single year for over a decade. And we will increase it again further next year"" she added.

South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell McDonnell told the conference about his fears for the future of the Executive following the agreement to devolve policing and justice powers to Stormont.

"I still remain deeply concerned and have no real confidence in Sinn Fein and the DUP's ability to get the Executive working again and producing results for you and me and the people we represent," he said.

"The Executive is totally dysfunctional and will require a massive personality transformation if the DUP ministers and Sinn Fein ministers are to do all that is necessary to create a normal business process."

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