Sinn Fein call for speed as station demolition begins
The demolition of Mountpottinger barracks has begun. The barracks was a police station and housed the PSNI, RUC, Royal Irish Constabulary and the Ulster Defence Regiment in its time.
Sinn Fein, and a number of other organisations including the Short Strand Partnership have been calling for its demolition since its closure. They are now calling for the site to be “redeveloped quickly” as social housing.
Sinn Fein representative for Pottinger, Niall Ó Donnghaile, said: “The broad opinion within the community consultation is calling on the Department for Social Development to develop the site. We have a petition with the guts of 1,000 signatures on it. Now a new campaign begins, we don't want the land to be left idle like in Andersonstown.
“Alex Attwood informed us that the land isn't available yet, but the local Housing Executive has expressed interest in the site.”
He added: “What we're calling on now is action from the department. The Short Strand Partnership board are eager to meet with the minister.”
Mr Ó Donnghaile has written to Mr Attwood about securing the site and said he was pleased with the progress so far.
“My concern is though there is a move, there is still a vagueness regarding the time frame.”
He said Sinn Fein did not want to see the site lie derelict for years.
Councillor Michael Copeland has a personal connection to the barracks.
“My father served in the Air Raid Patrol in ‘the Mount’ as it was affectionately known. I myself have an attachment with it in serving with the Ulster Defence Regiment,” he said.
“It was an old building that was in many ways past its best.
“However, the removal of a functional police station that did its best to serve the entire community is not something which is in my view deserving of celebration, which seems to be the approach adopted by Sinn Fein,” added Mr Copeland.
“The use the land is put to is a matter for those who own the land. I would be extremely surprised if it was used for anything other than housing.”
Said a spokesperson from the Housing Executive confirmed: “The site of the former Mountpottinger police station has been declared as surplus by the Police Authority.
“Given the housing need in the Short Strand area, the Housing Executive has declared an interest in this site being used for social housing.”