Video: Housing applicants need to report paramilitary intimidation to PSNI; people feel cheated

Derry Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney says people claiming they have been the victims of paramilitary intimidation in order to receive housing points need to report their claims to the PSNI.

That’s because non-victims who lose out in housing allocations are coming away feeling cheated.

Mr McCartney said there’s been a “spike” in claims of paramilitary intimidation in Derry and that a lot of people who lost out in an allocation of 300 houses here recently, came away disappointed.

Speaking during a debate on the housing selection system at Stormont, the Foyle MLA said: “Everybody involved in the system will tell you that there is a spike, particularly in the number of what are called ‘paramilitary’ intimidations.

“We need to examine that to protect ourselves. Recently in Derry, over 300 houses were allocated over eight or nine months.

“A lot of people came away disappointed from that system because, on the cusp of allocation, they were told by everybody concerned that they had enough points, but they were later told that they had failed because someone got 200 points for intimidation.

“Those people go away feeling cheated by the system, and we have to move to eradicate that.”

Mr McCartney said that under the current system ‘social’ or ‘community’ intimidation earns an applicant 20 points but ‘paramilitary’ intimidation earns 200 points.

He said it’s unacceptable ‘third party’ verification is permitted and called for all claims to be reported to the PSNI.

“It is my belief and that of my party that, unless people report that intimidation directly to the PSNI, the allocation of points should be looked at or examined,” he said.

“No-one now has any reason to go to third parties. That would put some pressure on the PSNI. PSNI personnel will sometimes tell you that threats of intimidation, particularly around housing, are not investigated as they should be.

“As someone said, it almost becomes a free way to get a house quickly. We have to remove that. I can say from my experience - I am sure that it is the experience of all members - that the biggest disappointment and the thing that makes people most decry the system is that they feel that they are on the cusp of being awarded a house fairly, and then, all of a sudden, the house is taken away from them by a process that everybody agrees is flawed,” added Mr McCartney.