‘Moral duty to support Triangle plan’

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It is with interest that I read your report on the council meeting of Monday September 1 in relation to Triangle Housing’s application to develop a site in Prince’s Gardens as a supported housing unit for 16—21-year-old care leavers.

Whilst acknowledging that the views expressed represent what I assume to be a percentage of the actual discussion in chamber, I am appalled by the reported comments made by some of the councillors.

Councillor Niblock highlighted information that he had received from a Freedom of Information request that the majority of the 71 call- outs in 2013 to a similar facility operated by Triangle in Coleraine were for missing persons.

The remainder of the call-outs were for incidents of threats to kill; burglary; theft; assault and criminal damage (it would be helpful if the councillor had quoted specific figures in relation to these call-outs).

The implication of Councillor Niblock’s comments would appear to be that if the Triangle facility goes ahead then Larne faces an upsurge in anti-social and criminal activity.

Whilst I accept that there may be some risk involved in relation to opening this facility, I feel that that this must be viewed in a realistic and balanced manner and not in terms of scaremongering.

Any reader of your newspaper over the last 20 years and more will realise that threats to kill; burglary; assault; criminal damage and much worse have been regrettably regular features of life in Larne. One has to look no further than reports alongside the report of the council

meeting in last week’s edition to evidence this statement.

Councillor Roy Beggs stated that we no longer have a hotel in Larne.

I wonder if he has some sort of temporary amnesia since he seems to have forgotten about the Curran Court Hotel.

I am also confused as to what he thinks the impact the Triangle facility would be on the nearby primary school. Could he specify exactly what he feels this impact would be and on what he bases his concerns.

Councillor Roy Craig is clearly unaware of the direction of Government policy over the last number of decades in relation to housing people from vulnerable groups and of the moral basis for this policy.

The notion of “finding somewhere more isolated” for these young people smacks of an arrogant, fearful and dare I say unchristian 19th century attitude to anyone outside the socially acceptable norm, let alone vulnerable children/young people.

As a community, we would all encourage and support an increase in the level of tourism in our borough. However, it cannot be concluded that the establishment of this facility would directly relate to a correlation in a rise in the level of crime within the town.

Councillor Niblock highlighted the impact that a potential rise in crime as a result of the Prince’s Garden facility opening could have on local tourism, in particular in relation to the anticipated increase in footfall when the Gobbins Cliff path opens.

The proposed Triangle facility will provide supported living with 24-hour cover to young people who originally lived in the Larne area and who want to return to their home town.

I believe that the Larne community should allow these young people to exercise their human rights to have an opportunity to live in the town. As a community, I would suggest that it is our moral duty to support this planning application.

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