Rosapenna Street; Long-term community issue is now resolved

For many years Rosapenna Street has been the scene of deep community tensions which; not only impacted upon the lives of residents daily, but also created a false, negative impression of what is a respectable working-class community.

Statutory agencies, political parties, the paramilitary police, elected representatives, housing associations and the housing executive collectively failed to resolve these issues. The so-called ‘multi-agency approach’ we are lectured about is exposed here as being yet another failure in a litany of frauds that are designed to disempower working-class communities.

Tensions reached crescendo 4 months ago after a number of families reported extreme emotional distress as well as a fear of violence. This followed several specific threats being issued along with a constant, heavily-militarised presence by the paramilitary police. Teach na Fáilte was engaged with and began mediation with various groups, charities and bodies In order to ease tensions.  

Lasting resolutions to major social issues depend upon the rights of all those involved being guaranteed. Despite over a decade- long, and often bitter-dispute the true integrity of the community was quickly revealed. All parties agreed that any threat of force or, violence from any quarter should be removed and replaced with dialogue. 

Inclusive dialogue established that the best mechanism to resolve this issue at it’s root was to ensure adequate rehousing for a family deemed central to the dispute. The IRSP oppose evictions and it was vital that we displayed this in spite of various complexities which we fully understood. Teach na Fáilte engaged with base 2, while the IRSP engaged with choice housing association and the housing executive to this end.

Almost inexplicably along the way, bureaucracy was employed, delays were enforced and further conflict arose. Local people were disenfranchised by all of this; Innocent families suffered assaults by pepper-spray welding cops, pointless arrests were made, and scenes of social carnage were played out on social media. While the IRSP contend that these scenes were orchestrated in order to discourage a working-class community from believing in it’s ability to determine it’s own destiny,  we fully applaud those residents who refused to let it impact upon their pledge to find a  resolution. 

This week the IRSP helped secure adequate temporary rehousing for a family alongside a pledge from the housing executive to permanently rehouse them expeditiously and in their area of choice. Nobody was ‘put-out’ no damage to property occurred and tonight choice housing association collected the keys of their property which remains intact and can be turned around quickly for the next family on the housing waiting list. This issue has finally been put to hed by community empowerment alone.

Speaking about the resolution Tarlach Mac Dhónaill said, “for the last 4 months I have had the privilege of working alongside residents of Rosapenna Street as well as a number of families from North and West Belfast. I am proud of our intervention but must concede that a resolution simply could not have been reached had it not been for their constant support, remarkable  patience and kindness. I am not leaving the issue and promise to continue my engagement with all of the families involved in this until every single pledge made has been honoured. This type of non-reliant, empowered community-led approach is the North Belfast I met over 20 years ago. It is an honour to be a small cog in the wheel of rebuilding that spirit.”

IRSP intervention seeks to empower residents and help community regain control over their own lives.