For the last few years I have been documenting how revanchism arising from the growing student housing village that is now south Belfast has impacted first on the evacuation of Protestants from the Holyland adjacent to Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and secondly on the current Catholic population of the Holyland.
My concerns have been e-mailed to unionist politicians at every level.
A recent newspaper article should send out warning signs to the unionist community as the DUP begins to defend the unionist seat of South Belfast.
The University of Ulster (UU) and QUB student population that resides within the Holyland has expanded over the last decade to include Lower Ormeau, Stranmillis and Lisburn Road.
As the UU begins its move from Jordanstown to Belfast, another 2,000+ UU students will gravitate to south (or possibly north) Belfast.
Already property speculators are buying up property in North Belfast in anticipation of the need for cheap houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).
Anyone who has visited Glasgow or Liverpool cannot fail to notice how the universities have helped to drive out local communities from the city centres.
The Bull Ring in Liverpool was once home to a large Catholic/Irish working class population of Liiverpool and now it is owned by a university. The same is true for large swathes of land around Scotland Road and Netherfield Road.
The Catholic community within Scotland Road was destroyed and the Orange community within Netherfield Road / Everton Road was scattered to the four winds as the Liverpool Labour City Council cleared the land and (in the case of Everton Park) deliberately ensured that no Orange community would be re-homed.
Today, universities in association with private property developers are changing the nature of our cityscapes and politicians and the planning regimes are powerless to stop them.
The newspaper article on the Holyland should once again send out alarm bells to the unionist political elites as the once unionist safe seat of South Belfast comes under threat in the forthcoming Westminster election.
Four of my photobooks containing over 1,000 photographs of the Holyland illustrates the commonality between the Holyland and Tates Avenue.
These photographs provide visual evidence of how an unregulated university can negatively impact upon a local community.
As of today, the unionist political community has remained silent about academic revanchism, I suspect this will not become a media issue until the once ‘safe seat’ of South Belfast is lost again to nationalists, as first happened in 2010.
Dr Edward Cooke, Mallusk