Saturday, 12 June 2010

Cultural vandalism

Businessman Dermot Kennedy - a former Sinn Fein election candidate - demolished Piney Ridge, a B1 listed building on the Malone Road in Belfast, over the Easter holiday in March 2008.  He was taken to court and was fined just £150 while the development company of which he is a director, Ortega Properties Ltd, was fined £300.

The defendants argued that the house had been derelict for some years and that they had attempted to safeguard it from local children and others but that on Easter Saturday the building went on fire and the roof was destroyed.

The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society said it was 'very concerned' at the 'small' fine imposed and rightly so.

Our listed buildings are part of our history and our cultural heritage and they must be protected.  In this and in a number of other previous cases the courts have failed to recognise the value of cultural heritage.  That needs to change!


  1. Sometimes I believe that the planners are utterly spineless; however, ultimately, it is for Government to legislate, influence and guide public servants on matters of such public interest.

    The UAHS has done us a great service by bringing such buildings of historic and architectural merit to attention.

  2. It seems to me that if you are really concerned about the cultural impact of this then the political affiliation of the person who did this is actually irrelevant. This seems more like cheap political point scoring rather than actual concern about "cultural vandalism".

  3. It was noted by most newspapers, probably because of recent references to him in the press, and of course there is the fact that it is true.

    You might also remember that we lost many fine old buildings during the recent terrorist campaign as part of the IRA's economic war on Ulster.

    The destruction or demolition of buildings that are part of our cultural heritage, whoever the developer may be, is a cause for concern. This is something that I feel very passionate about and something that I have commented on in the past. We need to see the courts face up to their responsibility and the most effective approach would be (1) impose substantial fines that relate to the potential gain for a developer and (2) compel the developer to rebuild the building as close to the original as possible and to a high standard.

  4. It may be true but is completely irrelevant to cultural vandalism. Someone's political affiliation has no relevance on whether they are more likely to destroy listed buildings. I feel exactly like you do on preservation of Ulster's Heritage but making these little digs sets many against you! That is not doing your position any good whatsoever.

  5. The press did not think it irrelevant. They thought it was very relevant. Have you written to all the papers that mentioned his membership of Sinn Fein?

    There are two stories here - one is cultural vandalism and the other is about a Sinn Fein election candidate who is obviously a very wealthy property developer.