Downpatrick frustration at boiling point

SIR, — I regularly read your correspondence page, and like many I am becoming more frustrated and incensed with the complaints of street closures in Downpatrick.

As a member of the 1st Presbyterian Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church in Stream Street I have experienced the closures at first hand.

Over a year ago I had to approach Phoenix Gas in order to get permission to have a hearse and mourners gain access to the church entrance. Since then the surrounding streets have been constantly closed.

Last week we had members who came to church on Sunday morning and were unable to find a parking space within walking distance. Consequently they had to go home and missed a communion service which is only held twice in the year.

I am all for progress but when such issues are eroding the rights of freedom to worship it is definitely not acceptable. This is the oldest existing church building in Downpatrick and has been worshipped in for 308 years.

When the clinic and old Downe Hospital sites came on the market we offered over £100,000 to purchase the clinic site for parking, but the vendor told us it wasn’t enough money. The two sites were then sold to a builder who began work. A few foundations were laid and then the work ceased. This speaks for itself regarding sustainability.

Our council appears to show no concern for Downpatrick and recent reports would suggest that the town’s facilities and services are being eroded week by week. I definitely agree.

If our so-called representatives showed any concern they should approach the Department for Infrastructure and make alternative arrangements for the weekends.

When the engineers stop work at lunch time on Fridays all they need to do is pile up the parking cones in Stream Street to allow people to access their place of worship on Sunday. When asked if we could set the cones aside I was told we were committing an offence and could be prosecuted. 

It does not help the situation when delay after delay is being reported. It is despicable to look at the streets on Collin’s Corner which are silent over the weekend when we could be easily accommodated.

I know local residents are also frustrated but are being ignored.

Yours etc,

Mary Stewart,