Published Monday, 06 August 2012
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Earlier this year, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland decided an area of the former military barracks will be turned into a space for sport and educational facilities, scrapping proposals for more than 200 extra social houses.
The DUP minister described it as a sensible compromise, following a long running dispute over how to use the site and how many houses should be constructed.
But heavy criticism has followed from local residents who believe the plan does not address what they have described as a "chronic" need for housing in the area.
On Monday, mothers and children from the Greater New Lodge area handed over a petition with 1,000 signatures to Mr McCausland.
Marissa McMahon said it is part of a campaign to "ensure the Minister and the Housing Executive live up to the equality commitments of the Good Friday Agreement".
She said: "Basically, we are being told that we want to live in an area of choice where there are limited social homes available.
"It is also not our fault if the Minister and the NIHE refuse to prioritise the building of social housing in the areas of most need.
"We would like to know why houses are not being built and allocated on the basis of need. Why are families forced to live in hostels and flats or at home with parents in cramped conditions? Why are families being denied equality?"
The protestors said there are 2,400 people on the waiting list for social housing in north Belfast, many of whom are families in severe housing stress.
Seán Brady explained: "Despite equality legislation and legal requirements on Ministers and public bodies, the legacy of housing inequality in north Belfast remains unaddressed.
"Let's be clear about this - it is not the case that there is no money available to address the long standing inequalities in housing in north Belfast and elsewhere. The reality is that money is being wasted and those in most need are not being prioritised."
In a statement to UTV, the DSD said Mr McCausland will "consider" the petition.
It read: "A senior DSD housing official met with residents today to accept their petition, which will be passed on to the Minister for his consideration."