Pressure is on to remove town barrier

The Edward St. security barrier. INPT01-209.
The Edward St. security barrier. INPT01-209.

Craigavon Borough Council has asked the Secretary of State to remove the long-standing security barrier at Edward Street.

The barrier, which has cut through Edward Street for more than 40 years, has been the subject of several campaigns to have it removed.

Craigavon Council recently wrote to the Justice Minister David Ford requesting the removal of the barrier and invited him to visit Portadown.

However, the Minister revealed that while he would visit Portadown the removal of the barrier was not in his remit.

Consequently the council wrote to the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers inviting her to visit the town and discuss the barrier given that any closure would be taken on grounds of ‘national security’ and this falls within her responsibility.

The Justice Minister suggested the council raise the matter with the Northern Ireland Office and the PSNI.

It appears that until an alternative secure location can be found within the town centre for the PSNI to have a presence, the Edward Street PSNI station is likely to remain, together with the barrier.

DUP Alderman Gladys McCullough said the issue had been talked about for a long time and needed to be moved on.

She emphasised that if the barrier was moved it would help the traders in Edward Street enormously.

Solicitor Brian Walker, who has offices in the street, said the situation was “ridiculous” and that Portadown was probably the last town in NI to still have a security barrier.

“It’s a relic of the past and a symbol of the town’s decline,” he said.

He told the Times that if the barrier were to be moved it would allow for good traffic flow up and down and through Thomas Street for more parking.

Mr Walker pointed out that with Mahon Road Station, there was no need for another police station in Portadown town centre and therefore no need for the security barrier.

“There is no need for a police station in Edward Street,” he said.

He urged the Secretary of State to “give some hope to the hard pressed traders”.

Mr Walker said removing the barrier would improve the image of the town. “I am concerned that the town is dying on its feet. This town is suffering badly and it needs something to move it along,” said Mr Walker.

A council spokesperson said, “A letter has been sent to the Secretary of State from council inviting her to have a site meeting to discuss the ongoing closure of Edward Street and a response is awaited.”