Sunday, June 16, 2024
GeneralSUPPORT FOR NEW WARRENPOINT COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

SUPPORT FOR NEW WARRENPOINT COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

PLANS to form a community association for Warrenpoint have been widely supported at a public meeting on the foul smell emanating from the town’s port. Last Thursday’s ‘Rotten to the Point’ event in Warrenpoint Town Hall was the second such meeting in recent months – there have also been a number of protests – and the suggestion by local businessman Jim Boylan that an association be established to allow the community to tackle issues like the persistent smell together was broadly welcomed by those in attendance.

In August, Warrenpoint Harbour Authority issued its initial apology for the odour, which it stated was being caused by household rubbish being recycled by Re-Gen. Issues regarding “the stink and the flies” were reiterated again throughout last week’s meeting, which was hosted by Colum Sands of RARE (Rostrevor Respecting the Environment). “You could be sitting at home now, enjoying a warm fire – what anyone else would be doing on a winter’s night – but you are here because you are saying ‘no’ to this,” he said.

Mr Sands then criticised WHA, Re-Gen and the councillors who sit on the harbour board – currently Jim Brennan (Sinn Féin, Slieve Croob) and Glyn Hanna (DUP, Mournes), with an SDLP appointment to replace former councillor Karen McKevitt still outstanding – for not attending the meeting. “I have no doubt that all the political parties on that board will say they are doing their best,” he stated. “WHA are saying that they are doing their best. “Okay, they are doing their best – does anyone here think their best is good enough?” South Down MP Chris Hazzard (Sinn Féin) said that, having recently met with WHA, “the status quo is unsustainable; it is not acceptable”. “The partnership with the community and the trust in the community is at rock bottom, and that needs to be rebuilt,” he added. “They have to understand that, they have to listen to people, and they have to understand that this is people’s lives they are talking about.” Mr Hazzard highlighted that “Warrenpoint is a trust port”, and that WHA has “public obligations” in relation to this. “They have to understand that,” he stated. “I think to date, and I have made this point, that they haven’t been understanding of that.” Crotlieve councillor Mark Gibbons (Independent) said that the councillors on the board should be “accountable to the people of Warrenpoint”, and voiced his frustration that a special meeting on the ‘foul smell from Warrenpoint Port’ he had proposed in October has still not taken place. “I think there needs to be some kind of action, another step forward, to make sure that it goes to bed, because it is driving people absolutely crazy,” he added. Cllr Gibbons also called for the councillors on the board to resign from their posts. South Down MLA Patrick Brown (Alliance) praised the Warrenpoint public for again turning out in numbers. “This has been four or five public meetings now, and I can’t begin to imagine how angry and fed up you all are,” he said. Mr Brown also stated that he would be taking up an offer by Re-Gen to meet with MLAs, adding that he believed that “residents that have been worst impacted” should be able to attend this too. Addressing the meeting from the audience, Mr Boylan stressed the need for the town to “set up a community association”, adding that he was “prepared to get it up and running”. “Our way forward is as one,” he said. “We have been here before – it is about time that Warrenpoint stood up as one, under a community association, and said ‘this is enough, this is the people speaking’. “So, if the body in the hall here is willing for that to happen, I am prepared to do it. “I am prepared for people to sign their name, saying that they want to get involved, and what talent they have. “Because we have the talent in Warrenpoint to do it. “The smell has been here long enough. “It is not just the last six months, it is the last number of years.” The local businessman added that the issue is “affecting the people’s health, both physically and mentally”. “We, here, will do it – politicians won’t do it,” he concluded. “We have to put the pressure on.

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