North Belfast Housing: Human Rights Are Being Breached

Below is an article written by IRSP North Belfast Representative and Belfast Housing activist Tarlach Mac Dhónaill.

“International human rights law recognises everyone’s right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing. These rights are continuously breached in working class areas such as Glen Ard, Ardoyne and the upper long streets area of the New Lodge. The denial of civil rights today is as unacceptable as it was in the 1960’s when the civil rights movement began marching against it.

Tenants are forced to live in very old terraced houses which present with constant maintenance issues. The housing executive faces a deepining stock-crisis while covid-19 has plunged the agency into absolute chaos. Fall-out from the confusion caused and the manic efforts to secure meaningless, temporary quick-fix solutions is, simply put; a grave abuse of working class people.

In relation to the upper long streets area of the New Lodge we have been told that an economic appraisal is being conducted by the housing executive “to ascertain the best long term option”. The Stormont ministry responsible for the housing executive is the department for communities and the department for communities minister is from the New Lodge.

In light of this we ask the minister in charge, Carál Ní Chuilín, to investigate whether international human rights law is being breached by her department In relation to the provision of adequate housing in the New Lodge. We implore minister Ní Chuilín to employ all of her departmental influence and ensure that an ongoing econimic appraisal is completed expeditiously and also that its findings are shared immediately with residents and all parties concerned on these issues. We request that minister Ní Chuilín investigate claims that the system is broken and that some housing officers, responsible forvcases in the New Lodge, are further failing residents through a negligent approach to the points award system.

We encourage working-class people to continue organising against all denials of basic, civil and human rights. Such denials by an uncaring, selfish system of clearly failed governance will end only when they are challenged by the victims. We must no longer allow ourselves to be misled by the fact that those responsible for denying our rights are familiar and sometimes friendly faces. Tyranny, oppression and abuse is often most harshly imposed upon us by those who once possessed and who therefore learned to wear the face of a friend.”

“We owe our allegience to the working class”