Staff to protest as NIHE faces axe

Housing Executive staff on picket outside Richmond Chambers on Wednesday morning. 0212JM50
Housing Executive staff on picket outside Richmond Chambers on Wednesday morning. 0212JM50

Housing Executive employees in Derry have vowed to fight tooth and nail against plans to “dismantle” the body.

As part of a series of protests across the North, staff in the city will stage a walk out of Housing Executive premises this lunchtime in response to plans to scrap the NIHE.

The protestors have urged staff of other housing associations to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in Derry’s Diamond at 12.30pm, today.

A major re-structuring move was announced by the Department of Social Development last week. Plans to break up the body, which has existed for 40 years, were announced by Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland who said it was “no longer sustainable or made the best use of public money”.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, a member of some 190 staff at the NIHE’s Richmond Chambers office - who did not want to be named - said employees will stage a walkout at 12.30pm today for an hour long protest backed by public service union NIPSA.

“The protest will be against DSD Minister Nelson McCausland’s strategic review which we have no doubt will result in the complete dismantling of Housing Executive.”

He added the plans were a “retrospective move” which would “diminish” best practice of the allocation of housing provided by the NIHE since its formation in 1971.

SDLP Social Development Spokesperson Mark H Durkan said the destruction of the body would be a disastrous move which would “put a question mark over the principles which underpinned NIHE”.

“All my life and for some years beforehand, the Housing Executive stood as the mainstay of ensuring housing allocation based on need and not on creed. The principles which underpinned its foundation were both noble and necessary, as much now as in 1971.”