£1.7 million spent on ex-army base but on what?

Entrance to Shackleton, Ballykelly. INLV0215-413KDR
Entrance to Shackleton, Ballykelly. INLV0215-413KDR

The Stormont Executive has forked out almost £2 million for a former British army base in Ballykelly which has lay vacant for the past four years, writes Sheena Jackson.

Shackleton Barracks was given free to the Northern Ireland Executive by the Ministry of Defence in 2011. After a failed attempt to sell the 720-acre site, the executive sought suggestions for its redevelopment last year. OFMDFM has told the ‘Journal’ the site will be sold in lots in the next financial year.

The OFMDFM has also revealed since October 2011 to October 31, 2014, costs have totalled £1,705.115. A breakdown reveals £345,174 was spent between 7 October 2011 to 31 March 2012; £598,049 for 2012/13; £476,236 for 2013/14 and £285,656 for 2014/15 to 31 October, 2014. When asked by the ‘Journal’, OFMDFM did not specify what that money was spent on.

Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGlinchey said he was “shocked” at the figures.

“That is public money and OFMDFM must make clear how the money was spent,” said Colr. McGlinchey.

SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle branded the costs “excessive for a site no longer in use”.

“You would think a certain amount would have been used for security and the running of pumps, but I just can’t imagine how £1.7 million has been spent. I’ve attended rallies at the site and physically there have been no changes,” said Colr. Coyle. “The money could’ve been spent better elsewhere, including in our hospitals. What I’d like to know is the breakdown of what the £1.7 million was spent on.”