‘A slap in the face’ for village

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will not be gifting any of the former army barracks in Ballykelly back to the community, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

The mammoth site, which covers more than 700 acres, was vacated by the army in 2008.

Earlier this year, it went on the market and Ballykelly residents called for some of the former barracks to be given to the community instead of bieng sold to the highest bidder.

In a statement to the ‘Journal’, an MoD spokesperson said: “It is neither proper nor possible to re-open gifting arrangements and, in any event, there is no further money available for any concessions.”

SDLP Councillor, Gerry Mullan said: “This is a slap in the face to the people of Ballykelly.

“Because of the inconvenience and how they suffered over the years, it would only have been proper and fitting for the MoD to consider leaving some legacy for the local people out of gratitude and respect,” he said.

“Ballykelly opened its doors and school to the army and their children and this would have been a mark of respect to give something back to the community.

“It is a disgrace.”

Ballykelly Community and Youth Association have campaigned for a small building on the Shackleton site.

Currently the Association operates from a small pre-fabricated hut on the outskirts of the village.

Reacting to the news, Chairperson Tina McCloskey said: “We are really, really disappointed more than anytthing.

“We really did think the MoD would give something back to the community.

“We weren’t looking for anything massive, just one small building. Ballykelly accommodated the army for so many years and, really, we are gutted by the news.

“Talk to anyone in Ballykelly and they will all say the same. The MoD should give something back to the village.”

Mrs. McCloskey added: “We really felt we deserved something in return for the all the years they were here.”

The MoD refused to reveal how much interest there was in the sale.

“The disposal process is ongoing, therefore it would be inappropriate to speculate on levels of interest.

“Informal tenders are due in on 5th August,” said the spokesperson.