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Campaign group taking up battle of the Boyne Bridge

By Rebecca Black

Published 02/12/2016

Opposition: Billy Dickson
Opposition: Billy Dickson

A protest group campaigning to retain Belfast's Boyne Bridge has been established.

The Boyne Bridge Defenders (BBD) was set up by Billy Dickson, from the south of the city, to oppose Translink plans to demolish the bridge, the original structure of which dates back to 1642.

It is under threat because of proposals to transform the area into the new Belfast Hub, a major development designed to house both bus and rail services in the city centre.

The BBD released a statement announcing the group's official formation and outlining plans to form a steering group and arrange a public meeting in the near future.

It also set out six aims, among them fostering greater understanding of the bride's history.

The others include campaigning for the preservation of the two arches of the original 1642 Great Bridge, retaining the bridge at its present and original position, and opposing the removal of the present Boyne Bridge, which dates to 1936.

The organisation also wants to promote the structure as a major tourist and education attraction for Sandy Row and the wider city.

Mr Dickson insisted that the "vast majority" of local residents were against the removal of the bridge and said there was no need to destroy it.

"We are convinced that the vast majority of people in Sandy Row are opposed to the bridge going," Mr Dickson added, "so we have to demonstrate that is the case.

"We feel that retaining the bridge and making a feature of it will become a draw to the area."

Last month the Belfast Telegraph revealed the concerns of the grandson of a former Lord Mayor whose name is on a plaque on the bridge.

Brian Hancock (80) said heritage should not be sacrificed for the sake of progress.

He also appealed to Translink to protect the structure and its plaque, which records that his grandfather, named George Ruddell Black, helped secure the reconstruction of the bridge's span in 1936.

However, Translink said the hub would accommodate public transport growth.

It also noted that the Europa Bus Centre and Great Victoria Street station railway station had an annual footfall of eight million - one of the highest in Northern Ireland. It aims to grow this to 13 million by 2040.

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