18 January 2006

Housing plans for barracks

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
18 January 2006

Four police stations in Fermanagh which have been controversially closed will be sold for low-cost housing developments.

Barracks at Tempo, Rosslea, Derrygonnelly and Lisbellaw are to be closed after police managers decided that they were surplus to requirements.

The Housing Executive and regional housing associations are to step in.

Work began this week on demolishing sites at Rosslea and Kinawley, the sixth site to be disposed of after last summer's review.

Policing Board approval was granted last September despite fierce opposition.

A Housing Executive spokesman said: "We found that there was a need for social housing in the areas where the stations are located and we will support the acquisition of those sites by a housing association.

"It is now up to the associations, which are funded by Government and private money, to acquire the sites."

Two other Fermanagh stations, at Newtownbutler and Irvinestown, had been earmarked for closure but were spared after lobbying by members of the public.

Some representatives have emphasised the dissident threat in the border areas of Fermanagh, although police pointed to under-usage and the poor state of the facilities as reasons for their closure.

Assemblywoman Arlene Foster pressed for the stations to be retained but said social housing was a good alternative use.

"We were against the disposal of these stations as we believed that they were needed along the border," the DUP member said.

"Work has now started on the demolition of two of the sites and as they cannot be saved then social housing is one of the better uses for it."

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