Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg Visits Seven Towers, North Belfast, as Part of His Visit to the UK

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Thomas Hammarberg, visited groups working with PPR in December 2011 as part of an official visit to the UK which included meetings with the highest representatives of government, parliament, the judiciary, as well as leading members of human rights protection institutions and the civil society.

During his visit Commissioner Hammarberg took time to visit the Seven Towers and heard how residents have, through Freedom of Information requests, revealed a number of fundamental problems with the ability of the £7m PVC cladding scheme to address long standing issues in the Seven Towers. He also heard how residents have exposed the initial failure of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to carry out basic and essential health and safety checks on the proposed scheme.

A housing conditions Monitoring Report by the Seven Towers residents, released to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Department for Social Development during December, revealed how conditions in the Towers have continued to deteriorate over the past two years with 87% of residents experiencing dampness, 88% dissatisfied with the electrical heating system, and 76% unhappy with the response of the housing authorities to reported problems.

During Commissioner Hammarberg’s visit, he also met with the Belfast Mental Health Rights Group and the Lower Shankill Regeneration Board to hear directly evidence from affected groups on how the government is failing to progress the right to health and employment.