A new book has chronicled the population growth in Derry’s Shantallow following the breakdown of the unionist `gerrymander’ of the city
Tony Hassan was one of the north’s longest serving councillors and served as a Sinn Féin member of Derry city council for more than 20 years.
During that time, he watched the population of Shantallow jump from 4,000 to over 40,000.
For many years, the Ulster Unionist controlled Londonderry Corporation operated a gerrymander to maintain control of the overwhelmingly nationalist city.
By refusing to build new housing, the corporation forced many Derry families to live in abject poverty in tenement conditions.
The gerrymander and housing in Derry became one of the main catalysts of the Troubles.
As a young man growing up in Derry’s inner city, Mr Hassan was forced to move to Shantallow after an IRA bomb destroyed his parents’ home at Bridge Street.
His personal account in From Old Streets to New Homes chronicles the rapid development in housing introduced with the reform of local government in the early 1970s.
The work also catalogues the impact of the Troubles on Shantallow as well as the deaths of people from the area.
Mr Hassan’s friend and former Stormont speaker, Mitchel McLaughlin described the abuse of housing as a “pernicious policy”.
In a foreword to the book, he said: “It outlines a city in the post-war era, whose economic potential had been strangled by the denial of civil rights and the gerrymandering of the electoral process, which enabled a minority of voters to dominate local government and obstruct educational and economic opportunity for non-unionists.”
Mr McLaughlin said Mr Hassan’s work outlined events which shaped his own life and Derry’s broader history.
Published by Colmcille Press, From Old Streets to New Homes: A Memoir of Derry, Bridge Street and Shantallow, will be available from this week.Tags: