10 June 2005


Girdwood: Brits to go back in

British army could go back into Girdwood because kids are ‘wrecking’ the base...

The NIO has threatened to put the British army back into Girdwood barracks, if locals don’t keep children from wrecking the base, a community worker has said.
Manus Maguire from Manor Street Community Association was given the startling ultimatum this week by an NIO official.
The British army has engaged a contractor to dismantle the base after local teenagers gained access.
But it’s believed no night watch men are employed at the base and children and teenagers are gaining access through gaps in the outer steel walls.
The North Belfast News understands that the British army is looking at options to improve security including the use of soldiers to guard the barracks.
A security source said the vandalism could hold up the work of the contractors for months.
The vandalism, which occurred over the weekend, has raised the dual issue of parents knowing where their children are, and the risk of serious injury or death in the base.
Manus Maguire urged parents to keep their children out of the dangerous grounds.
“The sangars are still there and the kids are climbing up them. It’s very dangerous and the kids are just going in wrecking. The NIO contacted us and told us if local community workers couldn’t stop kids going in, then they would bring the army back in.
“We then gave the phone number of the NIO to residents to voice their concerns because they are being tortured by these vandals and the NIO told them it was nothing to do with them,” he said.
But a spokesman for the NIO refused to be drawn on the issue saying: “Proper security has to be provided for the site to allow the contractor to continue his work to return the site to civilian use."
A spokesman for the British army confirmed it was reviewing security at the base.
“Because of the vandalism at the former Girdwood army base in North Belfast at the weekend, the MoD is reviewing security measures to protect contractors carrying out demolition on the site,” he said.
Meanwhile CCTV cameras have already been installed at Girdwood.

Journalist:: Andrea McKernon

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