Posted online: Sep 20th, 2010
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has met with Castledawson residents opposed to the destruction of local homes to make way for a controversial link road.
The Stormont chief, who is also MP for Mid Ulster, met with worried residents in Castledawson last week.
Local people are opposed to Department for Regional Development Road Service plans to drive a link road through a residential area as part of the Toome to Castledawson dualling scheme.
Road service officials have been accused of acting in bad faith by local people after it emerged they plan to knock down local man Shiv Chada’s Bell’s Hill Road home.
The Deputy First Minister’s visit to Castledawson has been described by Sinn Féin officials as a “fact finding mission”.
Bell’s Hill Road resident Anne Young says local people welcomed the opportunity to discuss their concerns with their MP.
She said: “We welcomed the fact that the Deputy First Minister accepted our invitation and took time out from his duties to meet with us, however as an elected MLA for the area we found it necessary for him to be brought up to date with events. It was a fact finding exercise for Mr Maguinness to hear first hand our concerns and the fact that this proposal for the link roads and flyover could actually have the least impact on the people and their property if it were to be located to the large green area on the opposite side of the road (Bellshill North) already recommended by the Inspector in March 2008.
“We thought it very important to make him aware of the Inspectors proposal from 2008 and the controversy it has created as we the residents have been kept in the dark that it was an actual recommendation. He was also informed that Roads Service have threatened to return to the 2007 proposal should this revised 2009 not get passed at planning. This would have a great impact on those residents genuinely affected on the Annaghmore Road. We feel that Roads have not treated us with the respect and consideration we deserve.”
Mr McGuinness was joined at the meeting with Mid Ulster assemblyman Francie Molloy and Magherafelt Councillor Ian Milne.
Mr Milne backed the concerns voiced by of local people.
He said: “I am very supportive of the residents’ plight. What they are trying to do here is wrong and as far as I am concerned people should always be put before property.”