Angry residents from Bishop Street have threatened to occupy the Nazareth House building if plans to build a facility for people with long term alcohol problems go ahead.
In heated scenes at a meeting held in the community centre residents said plans for the home were “despicable.”
Several residents threatened to “sit in” Nazareth House and make sure the plans do not go ahead.
“I am going to protect the children in this area myself,” one resident said, “Even if you will not.”
Oaklee Trinity Housing confirmed that at present they have not bought the building and are currently only in the negotiating stage.
There was standing room only at the meeting tonight - with not enough seats to accommodate the vast crowd,
During the night the residents heard presentations from Oaklee Trinity, De Paul Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
Louise Doyle from the Housing Executive told the crowd that a survey had been carried out identifying gaps in services, however the issue was that current hostels only provide short term care and the facility being proposed for Bishop Street is a long term one.
Current plans place the facility next door to a primary school and opposite a grammar school.
Kerry Anthony, the CEO of De Paul showed slides of a similar establishment in Dublin at Sun Dial House. She described the facility as a “home for life.” with ample communal areas which would be staffed on a 24/7 basis.
However it quickly became clear the crowd were frustrated by the panel’s inability to answer their questions directly.
One resident questioned why so many residents were not informed about a previous meeting which had to be postponed in July.
Another said: “This area is being treated as a dumping ground. Take this facility to the Culmore Road, The old Thornhill College site is lying empty.
“Those who suggested this have no common sense.”
Lynda McKinney who is part of a residents group directly asked the panel: “Will you stand up and say we will go with the people if they do not want this? Will you support us.”
Louise Doyle from the Housing Executive told the residents that it was not her call to stop the development. However she said it was obvious the community was of one mind and those feelings would be taken on board.
The mother of a child who attends Nazareth House P.S. said the emotions of the children need to be taken into consideration.
“In other facilities we have seen people urinating in the streets - can you guarantee the safety of our children.
The meeting was adjourned with the panel agreeing to report back to residents after they had discussed the points that had been brought up.
See Friday’s Journal for more