The residents of Dunlea Vale have vowed to stand firm against Housing Executive proposals to rebuild the block of flats, which claimed the lives of two Dungannon women.
Earlier this year, the TIMES revealed the Housing Executive’s plans to rebuild the block of flats where seventy-one year-old Betty McGirr and her daughter Deirdre (38), died in a horrific blaze in Deirdre’s home at in April 2012.
In a pre-arranged meeting, facilitated by Sinn Fein MLA Browyn McGahan, emotional residents voiced their anger and concerns to Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive Mags Lightbody, over the plans.
One of the key concerns highlighted by the residents, was the serious fire risk posed by the flats, as well as the ‘unsavoury characters’ which have ‘tormented’ residents for years in Dunlea Vale.
Mark Quinn, speaking on behalf of the residents told the TIMES of his shock and disbelief on learning the flats were to be rebuilt,
“My wife and I were gobsmacked when we heard the news they were going to rebuild the flats, we actually only heard about it when we read it in the Tyrone Times.
“So we decided something needed to be done to stop this, and so we had the idea to start a petition.
“We went round the doors with it and we got an excellent response. There is a total of 56 dwellings in Dunlea Vale and of all the residents we spoke to which was 46 out of the 56 dwellings, 82% of the residents and they were all agreed they do not want flats again in Dunlea Vale.”
One resident pointed out the bad history of flats in Dunlea Vale, the fact that two of the three blocks of flats had been burnt down, one of which claimed the lives of the McGirr women.
Another resident called the plans to rebuild the flats ‘an insult’ to the memory of the two women who died.
“It is an insult that someone should even think about building flats when we don’t even know what happened to the two women who died. These were two women who we all thought the world of and were very much part of this community. It is opening up a big wound.”
Chief Executive of the Housing Executive, Mags Lightbody told the residents that she would undoubtedly take all their concerns on board, “I am here today to listen to what you have to say.
She added: “I am very aware from what you have said that this is a very sensitive issue and we will go away today and digest everything.”