Belfast restaurant owner considering relocation pleads for help for drug addicts

A Belfast restaurant owner says that he feels he's been forced to consider relocating.

For two years, Bob McCoubrey has been trying to manage the impact which the rising number of drug addicts in the city is having on his business.

Mr McCoubrey, who owns the Mourne Seafood Bar, says that after a number of recent deaths, including one right next door to his restaurant, not enough is being done to help businesses and those in need.

Recently, a hostel has opened up next to his restaurant.

"We have people with varying needs - people who have drug addiction problems, drink addiction problems, vulnerable people, people coming straight from the courts.

They're all dumped in here with little to no supervision.

"We have people coming round to sell drugs. We have people outside the premises taking drugs.

"A young man's body was found in there last week. His body had been there for two weeks.

"This place really isn't suitable. There's nothing done to help them," Mr McCoubrey added.

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In response, a spokesperson for the Department for Communities said:

"The Minister is committed to addressing homelessness and will ensure housing services identify those at risk, provide support, and make any stay in temporary accommodation as short as possible.

“The Housing Executive has statutory responsibility for responding to homelessness including the provision of homelessness accommodation. “Responsibility for addressing anti-social behaviour in the area rests with the local council, the Housing Executive, the private landlord and police," the spokesperson added.

In response, Chief Executive of the Housing Executive, Grania Long said:

“As a last resort and if no other places in temporary accommodation are unavailable, we use bed & breakfasts and hotels," said Grainia Long.

“While these types of accommodation are not ideal, placements in these types of accommodation are carefully and proactively managed. 

“We work to find more suitable accommodation as soon as is practical and possible.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Belfast City Council said:

“A planning enforcement case has been opened in relation to accommodation at 38-42 Bank Street. Council has also engaged directly with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive after receiving a complaint from a business owner about alleged drug use and anti-social behaviour at this site. “Staff from our Safer Neighbourhood and Outreach teams were tasked to the area to offer support, and we continue to work closely with our partners in statutory, community and voluntary organisations to support them in tackling these complex issues and ending long-term homelessness in the city.

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