24 February 2005 Edition

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Kelly welcomes closure of Girdwood and Oldpark Barracks

Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast and party spokesperson on policing, Gerry Kelly, has welcomed the upcoming closure of Girdwood Barracks and Oldpark PSNI Barracks. Following the announcement on Wednesday, Kelly said that Sinn Féin had been pushing for such moves in negotiations before December.

Girdwood covers over 23 acres of land in North Belfast, an area that suffers significant multiple deprivation. "The site should have been returned to the local community long ago in order to provide an area of substantial redevelopment," said Kelly.

"In the negotiations before Christmas, Sinn Féin pushed for, and the British agreed to, an accelerated demilitarisation process. One aspect of this was the return of the extensive Girdwood barracks site to the community.

"At Weston Park, Sinn Féin secured a commitment from the British Government that a wide range of British military and PSNI stations were to close. However, following the DUP walking away from the comprehensive agreement of the beginning of December this did not happen.

"As a result of Sinn Féin placing this issue high on the agenda, we see today's move as a result. What we now need to see is this process being repeated across the board and the British Government living up to their demilitarisation commitments made under the Good Friday Agreement."

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