PROTESTORS have returned to Glassmullin Green amid a stand off over plans by De La Salle College to build a new sports facility on the site.
Work was due to begin the £1.6million project yesterday, but campaigners moved on to the green in a bid to block the development.
Contractors Haffey Sports Grounds left the site yesterday following an intervention from the Friends of Glassmullin Open Green (FOGOG), who have campaigned to protect the space since 2013.
Residents resumed their protest this morning.
Aithne Kerrigan from FOGOG has accused De La Salle College of acting “in bad faith from the outset”.
“They have said that they have tried to engage with residents – they haven’t,” she said.
“They held an open night at the start of April and they only managed to get seven people across their doors, four of which were definitely objectors. They told us at a meeting in April that they would keep us informed by email, but we have yet to receive an email from De La Salle to inform us that the work was going to start. They basically think we’re going to go away, but you know what? – we live here, we’re not going to go anywhere.”
A spokesperson for De La Salle said the school had engaged in “considerable consultation” and modified plans three time to benefit its pupils and “the whole community”.
“The school has kept the community in touch with developments as the contract process drew to a conclusion including leaflet drops and an open evening in April to present and view final design plans. A meeting with residents followed shortly after the open viewing evening. The school also indicated that with tendering administration nearly complete the work would start by the summer. Following notification from the successful contractor the school provided details to residents immediately about the contract start arrangements. We also advised local political representatives.”
The spokesperson added: “The school has already invited residents to participate in a Management Committee to minimise the impact of any potential disruption to residents during the construction phase and to oversee the usage of the new facilities which will be available to the whole community next year. During the open viewing evening, at subsequent meetings and in written communications residents have been encouraged to join the Committee.
“We remain committed to working with the local residents during the construction phase and thereafter.”
FOGOG maintain that the pitch will be detrimental for the people of the area.
“There’s going to be a major loss access to open green space,” Ms Kerrigan said.
“There’s a covenant on this green. It should be protected for everybody. It shouldn’t be fenced off for exclusive use, not to mention noise pollution, lighting pollution, the additional traffic to this area, but fundamentally the loss of open green space. Glassmullin green is precious to the residents, it’s precious to the community.
“We don’t have access to open green space in West Belfast. This is the last open green space in West Belfast and it should be protected for this generation and the next. We lost it before when it was Silver City, and we’re not prepared to lose it again.”
She added: “We’ll do what needs to be done to protect Glassmullin Green. We’ve campaigned since 2013 and we’re not going to stop now.”