Hoax bomb at hostel detracts from campaign

By Gemma Burns

R esidents opposing plans to extend a North Belfast hostel that houses male ex prisoners including sex offenders said a hoax bomb left at the site this week simply detracts from their peaceful campaign.

Patrick Wilson from Cavehill Antrim Road Regeneration (CARR) was speaking after a hoax pipe bomb was left at the Thompson House site on the Antrim Road on Monday morning.

Housing association Helm Housing plans to extend the hostel to have a capacity for 19 residents, up four from the current 15.

The hostel was originally privately owned by the Presbyterian Board of Social Witness (PBSW) However the charity has now brought in Helm Housing to help fund the extension. CARR say because public money is being used they have a responsibility to listen to local people and a full public consultation is needed.

CARR said they also now fully object to sex offenders being rehoused in the hostel at all, which is in close proximity to schools, crèches and a home for vulnerable teenagers.

However Patrick Wilson said they are running a vigorous peaceful campaign and do not want those who planted the hoax bomb to detract from their work.

“CARR are fully committed to the seeing the removal of sex offenders from Thompson House,” he said. “We do not support the planting of this device nor any type of attack on Thompson House, it is upsetting to local residents and potentially dangerous. We find this type of behaviour unhelpful. Our campaign is still ongoing and we have secured the support from all elected parties with representation in North Belfast.

“We are now approaching a key date when CARR along with Alban Maginness MLA from the SDLP, Gerry Kelly MLA  from Sinn Fein and possibly a DUP representative, to be confirmed, will be meeting the Justice Minister, David Ford at Stormont to represent the community and present our case.”

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