Fire shows urgency in replacing cladding, says McReynolds

Alliance MLA Peter McReynolds has said a recent fire at Obel Tower in the City was shocking to see, again showing the urgency of upgrading the current cladding on like towers across Belfast.

The local MLA was speaking after a speedy response from the fire service – something he has praised – meant thankfully no-one was hurt in the incident.

He added: “While the quick response to the incident has ensured no one was hurt, it has again raised the urgency of how and when cladding will be removed and replaced on these towers across our City.

“We must drive these concerns forward into actions, something myself and my colleagues have been working hard to advance. It is beyond frustrating that while around £30 million was previously allocated via Barnett Consequentials to fund the replacement of the cladding across Northern Ireland, in the end only around £1 million was allocated in the end by the Department for Finance.

“Government must come up with a better plan, which is why over the last number of years and months Alliance has continued to lobby on this issue, through Stephen Farry MP at Westminster, Naomi Long MLA in the Executive and ongoing engagement with residents and questions to Government Departments since I took up the role of MLA.

“Yet this is again another example of the damage the DUP’s shameful boycott is having on us all, with no Executive to press for a direct funding scheme, much of the replacement works is now being passed on to tenants and owners – who face an additional concern over not being able to sell their homes.

“The fire at the Obel Tower emphasises the importance in ensuring the cladding at the affected high-rise towers is replaced as a matter of urgency and the costs funded by Government money, rather than passing costs onto tenants and families affected.”