Hopes to demolish notorious Dingwell flats scotched by NI Housing Executive

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Taghnevan residents are calling for the Minister responsible for housing to walk at night around the notorious Dingwell flats.

After years of serious crime at the properties - described by the PSNI as the ‘epicentre of crime’ - residents are demanding action from the NI Housing Executive.

A number have asked for Freedom of Information details on the flats from various bodies including the PSNI, the NI Ambulance Service, the NI Fire Service and the NIHE.

The PSNI figures revealed there were 439 incidents at the flats since April 2007 including very serious crimes such as murder, rape, burglary, criminal damage, fire, drug offences, anti-social behaviour, as well as numerous concerns for safety.

Most recently Anto Byrne (25) was found dead at his Dingwell flat, passing away due to a suspected drug overdose.

His mother Maggie pleaded with young people to stay away from drugs so as not to end up like her son.

Campaigns by locals to have the flats demolished have come to nothing.

The latest pleas for action come after the prolonged rape of a young woman and the murder of Marcell Seeley who was found dead there last October.

The flats, which consist of nine blocks, sit beside the local school bus stop, the local shop and a bar and off licence.

One resident accused the NIHE of placing the rights of the 54 Dingwell residents above the thousands of residents in Taghnevan.

“The existence and reputation of the flats has resulted in at least a 15 per cent decrease in property values of the area,” he said.

Sinn Fein MLA Catherine Seeley said: “Whilst I welcome recent actions by NIHE managing the flats, including their recent attempts to increase the age range of residents I have grave concerns for those residents living within the flats and nearby.

“I have met with the local management of the NIHE, the Chief Executive of NIHE as well as the local community association. I have called for demolition and whilst I accept that demand for single living accommodation outweighs supply, we must continue to work together to eradicate ASB and crime from this area to ensure the safety of all our residents.”

A spokesperson from the Housing Executive said: “We regularly meet with the local community and other organisations regarding a range of matters affecting the area. We will continue to work together to identify ways of eliminating anti-social behaviour from the area to ensure the safety of all residents.

“The flats in Dingwell provide much needed accommodation in an area of high demand and there are no plans to demolish them.

“The Housing Executive takes all reports of anti-social behaviour seriously and we urge all residents to report incident(s) to us. As a reminder, in the case of noisy and disruptive tenants, neglected gardens, hate incidents, illegal structures, dog nuisance and using Housing Executive premises for business or illegal purposes, complaints should be directed to us on 03448 920 900. In the case of incidents such as criminal damage, assaults, violence, intimidation the public should contact the PSNI on the non-emergency number 101. In the event of behaviour such as littering, dog attacks, public drinking, waste dumping and vermin the Council should be contacted. Where incidents occur we will work with those affected, the wider community, other organisations and the PSNI to resolve the situation.”