Protests stepped up against hostel

The protest against a controversial wet hostel in Sailortown that could accommodate paedophiles stepped up this week with leaflets being distributed around the north of the city.
The New Lodge housing forum have also issued posters demanding that the plans for the hostel at Stella Maris, to be run by Belfast improved housing (BIH), be axed.
The hostel like the wet hostel at Brunswick Street will be run jointly by BIH and the De Paul trust from Dublin. And those behind the half million pound plan say no one will be turned away.
That has angered the housing campaigners who want an urban village to be built in the docks to eradicate the 83 per cent nationalist housing waiting list in North Belfast.
They say the presence of a wet hostel will discourage private developers and house buyers into the area and make it unattractive.
The Housing Executive, which has encouraged the hostel, insists it will only operate for two years. But that has been rubbished by campaigners.
“We believe that alcoholics should be given every chance to receive treatment – not offered a place where they can literally drink themselves to death. Remember that Brunswick Street has seen its share of murder and extreme violence down the years,” said a statement from the New Lodge housing forum and St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s housing committee.
Brunswick Street has in the past been home to paedophiles and indeed when questioned on the issue BIH refused to admit or deny if they would be housed in Stella Maris.
“The term wet hostel means the residents, mostly alcoholics will be allowed to drink on the premises.
“The wisdom of putting this establishment in an area that consists of little more than four bars and a drinking club is questionable.”
Liam Wiggins of the New Lodge housing forum said businesses, individuals and community groups across Belfast would be getting involved with the campaign in the coming months.
“North Belfast is top heavy with hostels in an area where there is desperate need for housing for the people who actually live in the area. This community is again being used as a dumping ground,” he said.
Evelyn Byrne of the De Paul Trust, which will be running the hostel said she understood concerns about paedophiles.
“For every paedophile we know there are ten we don’t know,” she said.
“As a society we want safe streets for our kids, but is it safer to have people lying around the streets rather than having qualified people working with them?”
There will be a public meeting on Thursday January 27 in the Reccy in the New Lodge at 7.30pm about the proposed wet hostel.

Journalist:: Andrea McKernon

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