McKee urges: ‘Demolish flats now to avoid tragedy’

THE Housing Executive should cut through red tape and fast-track the demolition of the Craigyhill flats, Larne councillor Jack McKee has urged.

After the latest in a series of arson attacks at the sparsely populated flats at the weekend, the TUV representative demanded that the bulldozers should move in at the properties on Linn Road, Cairngorm Drive and Shanlea Drive before demolition of the Gardenmore House tower block in Riverdale is resumed.

“There was another fire at the flats on Friday night and a woman in her eighties had to be removed from her home,” said Ald McKee. “I am sending out an SOS to the Housing Executive that these flats have to be knocked down as a matter of priority,” he added.

The Larne Times reported recently that the NIHE board and the Department for Social Development will be asked to approve a demolition plan put forwarded by local management. There is no demand for housing at the blocks, which have been ransacked, vandalised and subjected to a series of arson attempts.

Ald McKee said: “This is an emergency. There isn’t time for all the procedures and I think the demolition of these flats should be agreed even before the completion of the Gardenmore demolition because there is a very real danger of a terrible tragedy at Craigyhill and I am raising it now because I wouldn’t want to have that on my conscience.

“It’s a shame that dozens of flats will have to be demolished. In fact it’s a sin in these days of economic hardship, when people are struggling, and here is public money being wasted to knock down public housing.

“I would ask the young people responsible for wrecking the flats: think what you are doing to your own community, to the people of your own area, who are outraged at what you are doing.

“I also have to say that there is a feeling in the community that there does not appear to have been a serious police investigation. I have every respect for the PSNI, who are doing a tremendous job with the resources given to them, but I agree that there needs to be a more rigorous deterrent.”

Last week, the Larne Times reported that Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs Jnr and Coast Road councillor Maureen Morrow revealed after a meeting with the Housing Executive that the flats may be demolished, but only if a business plan is approved by both the NIHE board and the Department.