Belfast Telegraph

DUP hits back after north Belfast housing claims

The DUP has hit back at a story which claims it made representations on behalf of a constituent for a north Belfast property a week before the legal tenant was forced out by a criminal gang.

A report in The Irish News on Thursday claimed DUP MLA William Humphreys emailed the Housing Executive on a constituent's behalf who said she was interested in a property as it "would soon become vacant".

The report claimed the property in question is on Ballysillan Avenue and had been subject to intimidation.

In its response, a DUP spokesperson said the representation was made by William Humphreys' office on behalf of a constituent for a Housing Executive property, and "not one of the Connswater Homes properties which have been subject to intimidation".

Earlier this month intimidation forced six families to leave their homes in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast, following weeks of attacks on cars and houses. 

"William's office made representation for a constituent. This related to a Housing Executive property and not one of the Connswater Homes properties which have been subject to intimidation," he said.

"This can be readily confirmed from the content of the email which the Irish News has referenced and can be confirmed by the Housing Executive.

"This constituent has consented for Mr Humphrey to publicly confirm that the property which she enquired about, which 'would soon become vacant', is a Housing Executive property in Ballysillan Avenue.

"She was aware from the previous tenants, with whom she is on friendly terms, that they were terminating their tenancy and moving to another country. She has since been offered this tenancy and has accepted."

They went onto express concern about how the email referenced in the story had been passed to the Irish News and that Mr Humphrey's office had reported it to the PSNI, to the Housing Executive, and to the Information Commissioner's Office.

The spokesperson added: "The DUP again states our unequivocal condemnation of the acts of intimidation which have occurred. We urge anyone who can assist the police investigation to bring forward whatever information they have.

"We have met with the Police Commander for North Belfast, the Housing Executive, Connswater Homes and residents of Ballysillan Avenue. We are continuing to work to bring calm and stability to this area."

In a statement the Housing Executive said: "We are seeking a retraction of the article published today in the Irish News.

"We regularly receive correspondence from members of the public and people acting on their behalf regarding housing and the availability of properties. We have good working relationships with political representatives who contact us on behalf of their constituents.

"Following contact from the office of William Humphrey MLA last week, the Housing Executive immediately began conducting a review into concerns regarding a potential data breach around this case."

The Irish News has yet to respond to a request for comment.

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