30/05/2008

President Welcomes Cross-Border Housing Schemes

Two major new housing developments have been officially opened - by no less than the Irish President - who was undertaking the twin engagements, one on each side of the Derry-Donegal border.

Mary McAleese was in attendance at the pioneering social housing estate in Derry, where, as part of a series of engagements in the city, she officially opened Habinteg Housing Association's new development - Hawthorn Drive - in the Springtown Road area of the city.

The 46 new homes have been designed to be affordable and accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities.

All homes on the estate are designed to allow easy access, meaning residents using wheelchairs are able to visit their neighbours without difficulty.

President McAleese, also opened a new 53-unit Habinteg social housing development in Lifford across the Donegal border, and said the cross-border housing schemes had emerged out of the what she described as a new relationship between Britain and Ireland.

Speaking at the opening she said: "The completion of these Habinteg schemes is part of the fresh planting that is being done. It underlines the hugely changed relationship between Britain and Ireland - two neighbours whose relationship was for so long less than cordial but today is one of effective partnership and warm collegiality.

"A loving, nurturing home is not something that anyone should have to deserve. As we go about harnessing the extraordinary possibilities of the most potential-filled future that Ireland has ever experienced. Habinteg's knowledge, developed and refined over decades of immersion in local communities around these islands, will form an important part of that future.

"The North West is an excellent showcase for future cooperation across the border. Here is a region, one of the most beautiful corners of our island, which was scarred deeply over long generations by the conflict," she commented.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan MLA, speaking after the opening, said the new housing development was a welcome addition to the city.

"This is a beautifully finished new social housing scheme which is a very welcome addition to our community here in Derry.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to commend Habinteg on bringing this high-quality scheme online at a time when they are also opening their first project on the other side of the border, in Lifford.

"I wish them every success in continuing to provide high quality integrated housing for both disabled and non-disabled residents in the future."

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Tony Hassan said the new development would help alleviate Derry's chronic shortage of social housing.

"The 90 modern homes in Derry and Lifford have been built to a very high standard and those people allocated are deeply grateful to have a new home," he said.

(BMcC)

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