'Belfast, like any other great city, would be a much poorer place without its green open spaces, parks and public gardens'. This statement comes, not from someone opposing a stadium at Ormeau Park, but from the introduction to A Breath of Fresh Air. The book, by Robert Scott, was sponsored by Belfast City Council.
In 2005 our current Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers (then chair of parks and cemeteries services sub-committee) wrote: "I believe that our parks, playgrounds, sports pitches and other open spaces are essential facilities for everyone who lives in and visits Belfast to use and enjoy".
This statement was part of the Your City, Your Space strategy for open, green city spaces.
The planning services, in their policy statement Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation, say that open spaces are essential in any community for both amenity and recreation purposes and contribute positively to the character, attractiveness and vitality of our cities.
Our politicians, in their consideration of a stadium at Ormeau, are apparently ignorant of this document. The recently published report on the stadium does not address the conflict between development and the existing statements on the importance of protecting open spaces.
Belfast councillors and other politicians have been breathtaking in their apparent hypocrisy and ignorance of their own openly declared policies.
Diarmuid Kennedy, Belfast