Protestors hijack meeting on anti-social behaviour demanding action on Dingwell flats

Protest at Craigavon Civic Centre over Dingwell Park in Lurgan
Protest at Craigavon Civic Centre over Dingwell Park in Lurgan

Protestors hijacked a meeting on anti-social behaviour last night complaining about the notorious flats at Lurgan’s Dingwell Park.

At a meeting of the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) banners stating ‘Dingwell Park abandoned by the NIHE’ were unfurled.

More than two dozen protestors demanded action on the flats which have been the scene of constant anti-social behaviour, gang rape, and murder.

One resident told the meeting of constant all night noise from parties emanating from the flats with some party goers ‘dancing naked in the street’.

A spokesperson for the Dingwell Residents Association said: “The NIHE are running us round in a circle all the time. These flats need to be demolished.”

He described how residents living close to the flats had their homes devalued due to the constant anti-social behaviour.

“They can’t let their children go out into the street to play because of the anti-social behaviour. Many people living in those flats are involved with alcohol drugs and everything else.

Other members of the protest added: “Murder, rape.”

One woman said: “Our kids have to play on these streets.”

Another man said: “The Housing Executive do not want to deal with us.”

“They are bringing them in from Belfast and Newry to live in these flats while residents who have been reared in the estate can’t get homes.

Another resident criticised the NIHE for scheduling meetings during the day which they are unable to attend due to work commitments.

Another said they make countless calls to the PSNI who do come out ‘but nothing is happening because the NIHE don’t want to do anything about it’.

“The police’s hands are tied but the Housing Executive doesn’t care,” he said.

One man said it is affecting all areas because police resources are taken up by incidents at Dingwell ‘every day and every evening - the fire brigade and the ambulance too’.

“There were 308 repair call outs in the last year alone. That is tax payers money being used to do up those flats,” he said.

“It is their tenants who are wrecking the flats. All the NIHE do is fix them up for them just to wreck again,”

A representative of the NIHE was at the meeting however when asked by the protestors for a response to their concerns, he said that ‘this is not the proper forum’.

This prompted an angry response from the protestors who accused the NIHE of evading their concerns.

“You have been making promises for the last ten years,” said one.

A community worker said some residents have been kept awake all night long because of the antics at Dingwell flats. “Some of them are actually dancing naked in the street,” he said.

“There was a girl gang raped in those flats, there was a fella murdered in those flats. At the time the girl was raped we had a meeting with the Housing Executive and we told them it is only a matter of time before someone gets murdered. Well someone did get murdered. We are asking you. Is there going to be a child abduction for you to do something?

“What is it going to take for you in the Housing Executive to listen to us residents?” one protestor asked.

A NIHE representative at the meeting said they had responded to the residents.

When asked what the NIHE had done, the NIHE representative said he was not going to get ‘into a full discussion at this meeting in this format’.

One elderly woman said: “I am resident 40 years and this is all we get.”

Another woman said: “I live beside Dingwell flats and it is a disgrace what is going on there. Over 50 years I am living there. It has devalued our home. It’s about time you got your finger out and did something about it.”

A community worker said he had meetings with the NIHE 10 years ago about the same issues but nothing has been done.

The NIHE was asked for a comment and it is understood a response may be forthcoming on Monday.