Anger at abolition of Housing Executive

Mark H Durkan
Mark H Durkan

The announcement that the Housing Executive could be disbanded has been widely criticised in Derry.

Social Development minister Nelson McCausland made the announcement at Stormont this week.

Councillor Tony Hassan.

Councillor Tony Hassan.

Local politicians, trade unionists and community workers have all criticised the decision, claiming it will make the social housing problem in the city problem.

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson councillor Tony Hassan, who had previously warned of a run-down of the Housing Executive, said it is not the right move.

“The review of the Housing Executive began under the SDLP Minister, Alex Attwood, and has continued under Nelson McCausland.

“The review and the need for fundamental change was recognised and welcomed by all stakeholders including the Housing Executive.

“The Housing Executive was set up in 1971 to address the sectarian allocation of housing and to remove the slum dwellings across the north. It has achieved a good deal but more still needs to be done.

“Sinn Féin’s approach to this review has been very clear.

“Any outcomes must ensure an increase in social housing provision, the allocation of such housing stock on the basis of objective need and the need to continue to ensure the rights of tenants are protected,” he said.

Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said; “It is a matter of some regret that the only thing that can be welcomed from this statement is the fact that, after months of ducking the issue, the Minister has made clear his intentions towards NIHE.

“The demolition of the Housing Executive, which is the symbol of the one great progressive move in dealing with the North’s pitiful legacy of political housing, is bad enough.

“To use Welfare Reform as the smokescreen for hacking away at this body was a sign of the Minister’s dual wedding to both a vicious Tory cuts agenda and a determination to re-politicising housing allocations.”

Liam Gallagher, secretary of Derry Trades Council said; “This is in fact the privatisation of social housing.

“Over 2,800 NIHE staff will now be left wondering what the future holds for them.

“NIPSA and other unions involved will be seeking immediate assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies or attempt to diminish the terms and conditions of NIHE workers.”

A spokesperson for the IRSP in Derry said; “The recent announcement by Stormont’s Department for Social Development that the Housing Executive is to be essentially privatized is a damming indictment on Stormont and its willingness to impose right wing socio- economic policies on the working class.

“The private sector is not the answer to the housing crisis in the North.”