10 September 2009 Edition

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Falls residents challenge Ritchie

DEMAND: Residents want Margaret Ritchie to overturn her decision not to demolish Ross Road flats

DEMAND: Residents want Margaret Ritchie to overturn her decision not to demolish Ross Road flats

MEMBERS of the Falls Residents Association staged a protest outside the Radisson hotel on Belfast’s Ormeau Road on Tuesday 8 September, before a ‘Public Forum’ meeting held by the North’s Department for Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie.
The residents carried posters demanding that the SDLP Minister overturn her decision not to demolish Ross Road flats in the lower Falls area.
In March 2008, Frank McGreevy was murdered in his home in the Ross Road flats. In the aftermath of Frank McGreevy’s murder the Housing Executive carried out a survey in relation to the flats and recommended that they be demolished and that the area should be redeveloped.
Eamonn Andrews, Falls Residents Association chairperson, said:
“It is clear that the layout of the flats and the area around it makes it much easier for anti-social behaviour to occur. The residents living in these flats have reinforced doors. Frequently the main door into the flats has been broken open and drink and drug sessions have been held in the hallway.
“Residents have been terrified and their quality of life has suffered. How would Margaret Ritchie feel if she had to live without the feeling of relative peace and safety?
“Margaret Ritchie’s decision is wrong and the Falls Residents Association will continue to campaign until the Ross Road flats are demolished and replaced with good housing that people can feel safe and comfortable living in.’

SUPPORT
Falls councillor and MLA Fra McCann said:
“I fully support the efforts of the Falls Residents Association to have these flats demolished. I have called consistently for good, decent housing for this area, with due regard to community safety being fully taken into account in any redevelopment.
“Margaret Ritchie has let down the people of the lower Falls area. It is not good enough and we will continue to work until we achieve peoples demands for proper housing.’
In the meeting, Robert McClenaghan from the Falls Residents Association challenged Margaret Ritchie on her decision and accused her of treating the Falls community with disrespect.
Eamonn Andrews, chairperson of the Falls Residents Association, then handed the Minister a letter of protest from the Falls Residents Association and a petition with the signatures of over 1,000 members of the Falls community.

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