Not on our watch... councillors oppose delisting Kelly's Cellars
Belfast city councillors have vowed to fight the Department of Environment over plans to remove protective listed status from a historic pub.
Kelly's Cellars on Bank Street was just one of eight properties which the Stormont department has indicated that it plans to delist.
It was originally built in 1720 as a bonded warehouse selling rum, gin and whiskey, and then became renowned as a meeting place for Henry Joy McCracken and the United Irishmen when they were planning the 1798 Rising.
McCracken is even reported to have hidden behind the bar when British soldiers came for him.
The Department of Environment move to delist the pub - one of the city's oldest - has sparked fury.
A spokesman for the department said it was acting because an internal investigation has revealed a significant loss of historic fabric.
However, at a meeting of Belfast City Council's Town Planning committee last month, councillors agreed to oppose the delisting of Kelly's Cellars, along with former mill workers accommodation at Edenderry Gardens and properties on College Place North.
Committee chairman Claire Hanna said that there had been a "strong feeling" among councillors to oppose the delisting of Kelly's Cellars.
"We will be responding very strongly against that proposal," she told the city council last night. "Kelly's Cellars will be available for pints and revolution planning for some time yet."
Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said he shared the concerns expressed about the move to delist Kelly's Cellars.
He added that councillors must remain aware of the rich architectural history in the city and to protect it.
Meanwhile, DUP councillor Brian Kingston spoke out against the proposed delisting of the Edenderry Gardens properties, saying they were of both architectural merit and historical significance as the former residences of mill managers.
The full list of properties which the department has proposed delisting also includes Arthur Chambers, 4-14 Arthur Street; 4-8 Church Lane (Miss Moran Tobacconist); 10 Church Lane; and Ulster Bank (former Methodist Church), Donegall Square East.
The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society said that despite their present condition, all buildings currently proposed for delisting contribute to the value of Belfast's built heritage.
It added that they are important resources to promote tourism, investment and social regeneration.