The Rich Man in His Castle

Just come across something that has REALLY got my goat...

Currently I minister in Ballybeen, the second largest housing scheme in Northern Ireland, with all of the attendant problems that 1960s housing schemes have anywhere in the western world, and a few extra that are due to the nature of our little local difficulties over the past 40 years.

It has a high level of teen parents, single parents and blended families; large numbers of senior citizens; low educational attainment; a large level of debt problems; high levels of unemployment (all local manufacturing has now been discontinued).

Into the middle of this a local developer is planning to parachute a prestige, gated apartment complex called Skye Buildings. No mention of Ballybeen in any of the publicity... but its OK... even if those buying do realise where it is, the gates should reassure them that the peasants will be kept safely at a distance.

This is gentrification at it's worst. No sense of integration within the community. It reminds me of the second verse of Cecil Frances Alexander's "All things Bright and Beautiful" (which, thankfully has generally been omitted from modern hymn books)

The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate,

He made them, high or lowly, And ordered their estate.

Not in this estate thanks!


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