Statement by Saoradh Belfast
The Hillview Retail Park has, since replacing a former mill on the site, been a monumental waste of space in Ardoyne, North Belfast. Despite having Dunnes as the initial “anchor tenant”, the other units remained empty.
Since Dunnes eventually vacated the site, its sole use has been to facilitate a Sunday market that provides funds directly to the Shankill UVF who collect stall fees and do security.
A number of years ago local residents, supported and facilitated by Participation and Practice of Rights (PPR) started a campaign to have the site used for social housing, given the high rates of need in North Belfast – specifically in working-class republican communities. This campaign was supported by political parties, GARC, community activists, affected families and young people.
Despite this, Belfast City Council recently approved a planning application that would see the site used solely for business use – with the proposed developer a millionaire capitalist from over thirty miles away in Portadown.
Following local consultations, Saoradh Béal Feirste will be assisting residents in a campaign actively and radically opposing any proposed use of this site other than social housing. Capitalist enterprises should not, and will not, be allowed to ride roughshod over the rights of local residents to secure adequate and appropriate housing.
Republicans will not tolerate three and four generations of families living under one roof, while absentee millionaires profit from Council corruption and planning decisions based on maintaining privileged positions via sectarian headcounts.