DUP and Sinn Fein clash over plans for PSNI base

Land dispute: Glengormley Police Station.
Land dispute: Glengormley Police Station.

An angry war of words has erupted between the DUP and Sinn Fein over plans for the disused Glengormley Police Station site.

Sinn Fein representatives want to see the former barracks used for social housing, while DUP representatives have suggested that the land could be used by Newtownabbey Borough Council for a recycling centre development.

Following claims made in last week’s Times by Cllr Phillip Brett that the council may consider acquiring the site, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has accused the DUP of “attempting to stop the building of homes for nationalists” and of “sectarian electoralism.”

However, Cllr Brett has hit back at the Sinn Fein man, branding his comments “a sectarian slur” and accusing him of making “a blatant attempt to deflect from the reality of the current situation”.

The Antrim Road facility has been closed to the public since June 2012 and the PSNI is now taking steps to dispose of the site.

Land & Property Services, acting behalf of the PSNI, is currently in the process of circulating details of the property to other public sector bodies to establish if there is any public sector interest in acquiring the site.

The Housing Executive confirmed last week that it has registered its interest in the property, but Cllr Brett claimed that the NIHE itself had identified the only social housing need in Glengormley as being in Glenvarna and Queens Park.

Responding to Cllr Brett’s comments, which have been backed by a number of his party colleagues, Mr Kelly claimed that the site is already in the ownership of the Housing Executive.

“These attempts by DUP councillors to stop the building of any homes for nationalists at the former Glengormley PSNI barracks site are nothing more than base sectarianism in advance of May’s elections.

“For the DUP to tell their supporters that there’s any prospect of placing a waste plant at this location instead of homes is nonsense and the only thing now being recycled at this social housing site is the sad sectarian politics of the past.”

Hitting back at the Sinn Fein MLA’s comments, Cllr Brett described his remarks as “a naked sectarian slur.”

Branding Mr Kelly’s statement about the Glenwell Road site “factually inaccurate”, the DUP man said: “Mr Kelly’s latest sectarian outburst is a blatant attempt to deflect from the reality of the current situation.

“Due to an administrative error which resulted in Belfast City Council being informed of the land disposal rather than Newtownabbey Borough Council, the process of the transferring of the site has now been restarted.

“Today I spoke with the NIHE and the PSNI who confirmed that the police station is not owned by the NIHE.

“For Mr Kelly to claim this site should be for ‘nationalist housing’ is yet another naked sectarian slur in Sinn Fein’s crusade to sectarianise housing in North Belfast.”