Judith Cochrane MLA said: “Housing in Northern Ireland is still heavily segregated. If we are to build a genuine shared future then we need to address this issue as a top priority.
“If we are going to be serious about promoting and protecting all housing as mixed then we need to have a high level review of segregation in housing. Segregation here has emerged as a result of violence, fear and sectarianism over the past decades. It cannot be reversed quickly but we have seen significant and consistent support for mixed or shared housing in opinion polls. The most recent results from the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey show that 83% of people here would prefer to live in a mixed neighbourhood.
“The Housing Executive currently “supports the wishes of people who choose to live in single identity or mixed neighbourhoods”. We want to see changes so that no area is classed as single identity. Nowhere should be off limits for anyone, and there can be no tolerance of anyone claiming control over territory.
“In some areas we have vacancies on one side of a wall and estates bursting at the seams on the other. While we welcome the work that has already been undertaken around shared housing, such as the Shared Future Scheme by the Housing Executive, we still have a long way to go.
“It has become clear to my party that the DUP and Sinn Fein are not serious about promoting mixed housing given the recent announcement of the plans for housing at the former Girdwood site. There is a real opportunity here to do something different but instead we are seeing more of the same. We have seen genuine shared housing developments in Antrim and Enniskillen with contracts for tenants to ensure that territory is not marked. I am disappointed that the DUP and Sinn Fein didn’t decide to go for a proposal which would have moved a shared future forward.”
Alliance motion: Mixed Housing
‘That this Assembly expresses serious concern at the current segregated housing proposals in the Girdwood Conceptual Master Plan, as announced on 21 May 2012; and calls on the Minister for Social Development to conduct a landmark review of segregation in housing to inform a strategy to promote and facilitate equality and sharing in housing in order to eliminate both discrimination and segregation, and to direct the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to promote and protect all housing as mixed.’
[Judith Cochrane, Chris Lyttle, Anna Lo]