2 August 2007 Edition

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Adams calls on Minister to review decision on Andersonstown Barracks Site

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has called on Margaret Ritchie the Minister for Social development to urgently review her decision to award the site of the old Andersonstown Barracks to a private developer and he has asked for an early meeting with the Minister to discuss the widespread local concerns from residents about the proposed development.
“Sinn Féin led the successful campaign to remove the barracks. When it was demolished the land was handed over to the Valuation & Lands Agency and that agency offered it for sale to any other government department. The Department of Social Development decided to acquire the site and its local agency, the Belfast Regeneration Office, then became responsible for how the site would be developed”, Adams said.
“Sinn Féin had proposed to the department that the site should be gift-aided to the local community for local use. We were the only political party to make this demand. The Minister had the prerogative to exercise this power with land in the Department’s possession. However, in early July the Minister announced that she had chosen the Carvill Group to develop the site. No prior warning or notice of this decision was given.
“In order to make a decision about the site the Department required a proper and effective consultation process as well as evidence that a developer could obtain community support for their proposal”, he said.
“The consultation process was seriously deficient and did not properly and effectively engage with the local community and local elected representatives.
“In addition the proposals now published by the developer do not command community support. At a meeting last Wednesday attended by almost 150 people there was unanimous opposition to the development.
“Sinn Féin still maintains that the Minister should give the land back to the local community.
“I have therefore written to the Minister asking that she urgently review her decision and seeking an early meeting.”
“The Andersonstown Barracks site is a key landmark location in west Belfast. Any development must reflect this fact, the history of the site and the needs of local residents. Sinn Féin’s focus is to achieve the maximum potential benefit to the local community”, Adams said.

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