Belfast Telegraph

New library protest

By Brénna Walsh

Ballymacarrett library has become the latest venue for local people to protest against six proposed library closures.

Located in Templemore Avenue, protestors took to the streets outside the old building last Thursday, February 18. It was organised by public service union NIPSA.

Along with Ballymacarrett, Ballyhackamore, Tullycarnet, Braniel, Woodstock and Gilnahirk libraries are also under threat of closure.

They join eight other libraries across Belfast as part of a three-year proposal from Libraries NI due to start this year.

Speaking at the protest, Michael Copeland, Castlereagh Deputy Mayor, said: “I fully support the action of the residents of Castlereagh and Belfast.”

Pottinger councillor John Kyle added: “It would be a mistake to close this library as it has school resources that bring benefits to the community.

“It's helpful with integration of migrant workers and provides valuable resources.”

If the library does close, users will have to travel to the library at Holywood exchange.

This is the fear of two library users, Mrs Jones and Mrs Ballagh.

The two pensioners have been going to the library for many years and said they were very disappointed that it might close.

Mrs Jones added: “Our money kept them going. They don't seem to care about pensioners.”

Ballymacarrett Library has been lending books from 1903, when it was first started by the local community.

It has survived for over a 100 years, including two world wars.

Libraries NI is currently holding an officially public consultation, which will run until April 5.

It has faced criticism over the number and location of public meetings, which have often been planned in libraries that will remain open.

As part of the scheme other libraries may receive new builds, require minor works, or be clustered together forming a single entity.

NIPSA has started its own facebook group to help raise support for the local libraries.

You can register your views by signing the petition at libraries and you can download a petition at www.nipsa.org.uk/campaigns .

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