DUP and UUP put East Belfast up for sale

THE ASSEMBLY managed to preside over the de-industrialisation of much of East Belfast.

The Shipyard has been reduced to a shell, the days of building ships no more than a memory, the skills built up over a century will now probably be lost for ever.

Shorts has also been run down. In the last two years, the workforce has been reduced by 1,600. Bombardier are concentrating production in Toronto and there is a danger that they could decide to close the Belfast plant.

They are threatening to cut a further 1,000 jobs and are using the threat to blackmail the workforce into accepting a poor pay offer and a worsening of conditions.

A further nail in the industrial coffin of East Belfast has been the sale of 185 acres of the Harbour estate to Fred Olsen's company, Olsen Energy. This was sold for the giveaway price of 47 million. This land will now be used to benefit property speculators - not to solve the housing problem or help provide jobs.

The irony is that it was Unionist Ministers like the UUP's Reg Empy and Peter Robinson of the DUP who oversaw the destruction of what they would have regarded as part of the "Protestant" industrial heritage.

East Belfast Socialist Party candidate, Tommy Black, has slammed Peter Robinson for "behaving like a high paid auctioneer, selling off much of the assets of this district. The contract with Fred Olsen should be revoked. This land should be brought back into public ownership and a development committee made up of trade unionists, representatives of all communities in East Belfast, as well as local politicians should decide on how it can be used.

"This area could provide much needed social housing as well as jobs and facilities. This would go a long way to ease the tension over shortage of affordable housing which is one of the underlying causes of the sectarian fighting in and around the Short Strand."

For more articles from the November 2003 edition of Socialist Voice

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