Brandywell row continues

Caral N' Chuil'n, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, with Raymond McCartney, MLA, and Sean Barrett, vice-chairman, Derry City FC during a courtesy visit

Caral N' Chuil'n, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, with Raymond McCartney, MLA, and Sean Barrett, vice-chairman, Derry City FC during a courtesy visit

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The Department for Culture Arts and Leisure plays no role in funding the development of the Brandywell stadium.

Funding for that will be provided by Derry City Council and the Office of First and Deputy First Minister, though DCAL does play a role in the wider development plan for the area.

The confirmation came as the row continued between Sinn Fein and SDLP over the funding of badly needed stadium improvements.

Last year, the DCAL Minister Caral Ni Chuilin (Sinn Fein) was pictured on the pitch at the Brandywell along with representatives of Derry City football club when an announcement was made of funding for the Brandywell and other areas.

This did not include the stadium itself and SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood accused the minister of “playing games over the funding of the Brandywell project”. Derry City Council had previously pledged £2,5m towards developing the stadium. Sinn Fein countered by saying DCAL had announced £2m for the Daisyfield and its environs, whereas from Martin McGuinness’s office (OFMDFM), the Social Investment Fund had earmarked over £1m for pitch and play facilities in the Brandywell and Showgrounds.

Since then, the SDLP has asked a series of questions about DCAL funding for the Brandywell stadium. Most recently, MLA Pat Ramsey asked asked Caral Ni Chuilin whether “the Project Design Team for the Brandywell Project has been appointed”. Mr Ramsey asked a second question, whether “in light of recent budget cuts announcement within her Department, whether the planned redevelopment work at the Brandywell Stadium will proceed”.

Ms Ni Chuilin said that she was aware of plans to redevelop the Brandywell Stadium, adding: “No formal funding application has been received by my Department.” She said Mr Ramsey should direct his questions to Derry City Council.

In a bid to get the issue resolved, the Derry Journal referred Mr Ramsey’s questions to Derry City Council and asked for a response.

A spokesperson for Derry City Council said: “The Brandywell Stadium project, which is part of the wider Foyle Valley Gateway project, will be supported by both Derry City Council and the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, through the Social Investment Fund.

“While DCAL has no funding role in the stadium itself the department is one of the core funders of the wider Brandywell/Daisyfield masterplan which is part of the Foyle Valley Gateway Project.”