Saturday, July 13, 2024
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    RESIDENTS of Ballykinlar have “very real concerns” about the installation of CCTV cameras along the perimeter fence at the local Army base, a South Down MLA has said. Colin McGrath said people are worried about how the cameras affect their right to privacy. He added that a response from the Ministry of Defence has “done nothing to allay” the concerns of residents.

    “Many of these cameras are in fixed positions and others have the capacity to rotate,” the SDLP Assembly member stated. “There is a genuine concern over possible invasion of privacy here. “Following this, I wrote to the Ministry of Defence to outline my concerns and the concerns of local residents. “It was not only disappointing that it took the minister a month to respond, but also the response itself has done nothing to allay people’s very real concerns.”

    The local MLA said it is “a disgrace” that people living in the area weren’t consulted about the plans to install the cameras. “The minister has said that the fixed cameras cannot be moved and must remain in their place of installation.  “The minister also went on to say that the rotating cameras have a privacy block on them, which means they cannot pick up any data from residents’ homes or gardens.  “This is the bit I still find concerning. “This does not give local residents the assurance that video footage from their homes could not potentially be picked up.”

    Mr McGrath said he visited the area to see the cameras for himself. “This has only given me further cause for concern and I have again written to the MoD to request that an impact and equality assessment on the installation of these cameras be completed, to ensure residents’ rights are not being denied or abused,” he added. “We need to know what type of cameras are being installed and just how this privacy block will operate. “Given the MoD has been reluctant (at best) to respond to this matter, it is essential that local residents have a strong voice speaking truth to power for them, and that is precisely what I will continue to do,” he concluded.

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