Its easy to look at something that you are not apart of and be critical of it. I have no part in the issues around the purposed development of the pitch in Glassmullin but it is an issue that I have been interested in for several months now. Every week I read the Andytown news and in its texts page there is a constant battle between those in favor and those opposed to the development. Because I have an interest on the subject and I have been following it for some time I have decided to put my take on it.
To put it in to context there has been a purposed development on the green land in Glassmullin. The land is owned by Belfast City Council and is sought by the nearby La Salle school to build a sports facility on the grounds. Those in favor of the development include La Salle and Sinn Fein. The residents are opposed to a development.
The area was formerly known as ‘silver city’, an army barracks, and was eventually given back to the community when the Brits withdrew from the area. La Salle plan to build a state of the art pitch on the ground. This will be fenced off, flood lit and the community can be granted access for a fee of course. These are some of the concerns being raised by the local community. Parking being another.
A public meeting was held in the school to get a feeling about how residents felt. This was an absolute disaster for SF and La Salle as it was clear that the overwhelming majority of residents opposed the development. After this SF held its own meeting for residents in Connolly House and apparently there was a U turn in resident opinion. In response to this every household around the pitch put up posters in their windows highlighting their objection. Some U turn!
500 residents have also signed petitions stating their objection making it increasingly difficult for SF and La Salle to continue to state that there is support for the development. There has also been a lot of smear put out against the residents and I have also heard rumors of residents windows being egged.
I recently read an article in the guardian about green space in England being constantly bought up and used for development. It reminded me of Glassmullin. I think that it would be a shame to develop on the site. It is a lovely field although I don’t think that it is utilized enough. There have been arguments stating that it is never used and it attracts anti-social behavior. This is over exaggerated. Any time I walk past it it is being used by people walking dogs, kids playing and even a local GAA team has been using it for training.
In my opinion La Salle already have a state of the art sports facility in the school. In regards to a pitch they are a stone throw away from St. Genevieves where they can use their pitch. The field should be in the ownership of the whole community, not just La Salle. GAA nets should be put up that La Salle, kids and local clubs could use. To protect the pitch a small fence could be put around the whole green to prevent motorbikes being used on it.
I think that the concerns of residents need to be listened to instead of being brushed aside or trying to smear residents which is what is happening now in Glassmullan and also in Stockmans and Mooreland with the Casement development.
Fair play to the residents of Glassmullin and keep up the fight!