The former viceprincipal of Killard House was forced to retire when she became disabled by a nuerological degenerative condition. A brave spirited woman, Anne has also survived a stroke and fortunately won her battle against pancreatic cancer. Speaking to the Spectator this week, this deeply upset couple said their landlord's request to move them out of their bungalow came like a 'bolt out of the blue' earlier in March this year.
Their landlord, the Northern Ireland Institute for the Disabled (NIID), offered the couple alternative accommodation in an apartment in the care village, and the moving date was set for later in June. The couple believe the alternative accommodation is unsuitable to their needs and have been living in fear of eviction since earlier last month. Denis stated, "The landlord, the NIID, has told us to move out of the bungalow to make room for people with learning difficulties, because it is the intention of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to occupy the bungalow with people of their choice after we have been forced to vacate it."
Strickland's Care Village is situated on Bangor's picturesque coastal path and is set in a 10 acre site with views across Belfast Lough. The aim of Strickland's and the NIID is to provide the highest standards of person centred care and support, promoting independence and integration with the local community. The care village, which includes Stewart Memorial House and Strickland's Bay, provides care and support for people with disabilities, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington's Disease, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, and Brain Injury.
Denis believes the move to a smaller apartment will have an adverse affect on his wife's health. He said, "The problem is that moving to the apartment will strip my wife of much of the independence that she has enjoyed at the bungalow and significantly diminish her quality of life. "The bungalow has a garden with 50 different types of flowers, fruit and vegetables, all planted by my wife. The apartment has a small patio that is in deep shade throughout the year and is open to a public road. "The bungalow has a splendid view of Belfast Lough. There is no view of the lough from the apartment. The living area in the apartment is more than 40 percent smaller than the living area in the bungalow so we must get rid of furniture and belongings."
Denis said, "The NIID has told that as a private landlord it is acting within its legal rights. We have been informed that as a private landlord the NIID does not have to offer alternative accommodation. "We have been told that if we do not accept the unsatisfactory accommodation that is offered the NIID has the legal right to evict us and that it shall exercise that right if we do not leave our home. "When we moved into the care village as tenants my wife was assured of a secure environment for the rest of her life where she would be treated with dignity and respect. "So why is the NIID now forcing her to face intimidation and discrimination in what has become a hostile environment?"
Anne said they were given a 'verbal agreement' when they moved in to their bungalow that they would be able to see out their days in their new home. "We were assured that when I died Denis would not have to leave. We were told 'no, definitely not' he could live his life out in the bungalow." North Down MP Sylvia Hermon is supporting the local couple in their bid to stay in their home. She said, "I'm extremely concerned about what has happened to Denis and Anne Mayne, and I'm also astonished at the approach that has been taken by the Northern Ireland Institute for the Disabled (NIID). "It's an organisation for which I have immense regard and so I remain optimistic that they will withdraw their proposals that Denis and Anne should leave their bungalow at Stricklands Bay."
Lady Hermon said, "It has been their home for 10 years, and I know how very upset I would be if I were suddenly told to leave my home. How much more upsetting it must be for Anne who is in a wheelchair and for her loving and devoted husband. "In such distressing circumstances, it really is incumbent upon the NIID to act honourably and allow Anne and Denis to continue to enjoy living in their bungalow."
John Miskimmon, NIID Executive Director, said, "Northern Ireland Institute for the Disabled (NIID) is a charitable company working to further its objectives and charitable purposes with the resources that it has available. "This includes being able to manage its housing stock. It is not our practice to comment on the particulars of individual cases; however we confirm that in this situation we have offered a choice of alternative accommodation within Strickland's Care Village." A spokesperson for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said,"The South Eastern HSC Trust does not make decisions about allocation of tenancies. This remains a matter between the landlord and the tenants."