East Belfast residents in limbo after construction firm collapse

By Lauren Harte

A group of residents in East Belfast say they have been left living in "appalling" conditions after a Housing Executive contractor ceased trading earlier this week.

JMC Mechanical and Construction carried out a mix of private and public sector work from its headquarters in Waringstown, Co Down and at additional premises in Bleary and Lisburn.

Its work included providing maintenance services to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and other social housing providers.

Workers were told on Monday afternoon the firm had closed, resulting in about 100 job losses.

The family business was established in 2000.

Work was underway in parts of Tullycarnet to replace bathrooms and kitchens and a number of properties have been left without both facilities while others are still waiting for upgrades to start.

The Housing Executive said its working to prioritise those who have been adversely affected.

Several residents including Aileen Stirling, June Patton (centre) and Joanne Large have been left without kitchens and bathrooms. (Belfast Live)

Belfast Live spoke to residents living in Kirn Park on Wednesday as they waited for work to recommence at their homes.

Some have been left without running water and electricity and say it is "like living in a third world country".

June Patton, who has lived in the area for over 30 years, is among those who have been left with no functioning kitchen.

She said: "The men came last Thursday and took the kitchen out, ripped the ceiling down and lifted the floor.

“They came back later that day to spray the walls and then on Friday they spent 10 minutes doing some plumbing. That was the last I saw of them.

June Patton's kitchen has been completely ripped out (Belfast Live)

"They were supposed to come back to me on Monday but they were working on another house across the street when they got word that the firm had gone bust.

"A neighbour came in and told me that the workmen were all away. I thought they were winding me up because my place has been left gutted with wires hanging out everywhere and holes in the walls so I'm scared stiff of mice getting in.

"It's a disgrace that my home has been left like this."

Asda Dundonald and nearby Sam's Grill restaurant have been supporting residents in Kirn Park by delivering water, lunches, dinners, baby wipes and candles.

Asda Dundonald and Sam’s Grill restaurant have been supporting residents (Belfast Live)

June’s neighbour Aileen Stirling added: “It’s a week since the work started on my kitchen. It has been left with the cupboards in but there’s no doors on them.

“I’ve been living on cereal for most of the last week. I got takeaways for a few days in row but I couldn’t afford to keep getting them.”

Across the street, Joanne Large has also been left with a half finished kitchen.

“We have no electricity or sink in the kitchen. We’re having to use the bath to do the dishes, get washed and brush our teeth.

“My work started on Monday of last week. I have all the new cupboards in the kitchen but I can’t use them yet.”

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “Our immediate priority is to ensure minimal disruption for our tenants.

“A small number of properties are in the process of being upgraded and our own maintenance teams have prioritised these for completion.

“Other properties are due to be upgraded and contingency planning to ensure this takes place is already underway.

“Our staff visited residents yesterday and today and we will keep them updated on progress.”

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