Police probe into ‘no demolition’ graffiti in Rathcoole

The appearance of graffiti opposing the planned removal of one of Rathcoole’s iconic tower blocks is under police investigation.

‘NIHE NO DEMOLITION’ has been daubed on business premises in The Diamond area of the Newtownabbey estate.

It was painted on the side of the building after the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) outlined the proposed timetable for the tumbling of Monkscoole House last week. Read here

A NIHE spokesperson said: “The Housing Executive is aware of graffiti in the vicinity of Monkscoole House and we have referred the matter to the PSNI.

Cllr Robert Foster has called on the Housing Executive to retain all four of Rathcoole's tower blocks.

“As previously mentioned, the Housing Executive consulted widely on plans to remove the tower blocks in Rathcoole.

“The approved Tower Block Action Plan will retain two of the tower blocks and provide 50 new social homes in Rathcoole, which will regenerate this area of the estate and provide much needed accommodation to allow local residents the opportunity to remain in Rathcoole.

“All residents in the tower blocks received a letter last week to advise that a contractor was being sought to demolish Monkscoole House and preparatory works will continue in and around Monkscoole. Health and safety works also need to be carried out to the roof of Monkscoole House, this is scheduled for Friday, February 26.”

The spokesperson added: “Residents were also advised that a business case regarding the future of Abbotscoole House will be prepared later this year. As part of this, all residents and owners of Abbotscoole will be contacted to inform them of their housing options, compensation entitlements and to assess their housing requirements.

“Housing Executive staff will provide advice and assistance during every step of this process, and residents will continue to be updated as we move forward.”

Police are appealing for information about the graffiti incident.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police are appealing for witnesses and information following reports of criminal damage caused to a business premises in The Diamond area of the Rathcoole estate.”

Sergeant David Boyd stated: “We received reports on February 21 and February 23 that writing was daubed/painted onto the side of a shop wall at The Diamond area in Rathcoole.

“We would appeal for information about this incident, or to those who may be able to help with our investigation, are asked to call us on the non-emergency number 101, or submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/

“You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/

Macedon UUP Councillor Robert Foster has urged residents who are frustrated by the potential demolition of Monkscoole House to show their opposition in peaceful and legal ways.

Cllr Foster said: “I am totally opposed to the demolition and I’ve made my opposition clear publicly and privately to the Housing Executive. I share the frustration of residents and I can assure them that I will continue to voice their concerns. However, putting graffiti up is not the way to go about getting genuine and legitimate concerns across.

“People may be angry, but there’s no point in vandalising our own areas to make that point. Write letters, organise petitions, speak to elected representatives, but don’t vandalise Rathcoole.”

Meanwhile, members of the RATH community group have launched a petition in a bid to overturn the decision to demolish Monkscoole House.

A spokesperson for RATH said: “It cannot be justified to not only demolish an iconic building, but to also demolish a building that could put a small dent in an already huge and rising housing waiting list within the area.

“The Housing Executive have a tower block action plan in place, rightly or wrongly. In that plan there are 33 tower blocks. Why is it that the first to be targeted is located in one of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland with one of the highest waiting lists?”

To date, over 900 people have signed the petition.

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