Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuillín says her department is “committed to finding a way to ensure appropriate leisure and sporting facilities are provided for Dungiven and its surrounding hinterland.”
According to Minister Ní Chuillín, who has pledged £2.5m towards the project, the complex could be built with no cost to ratepayers as funding from a separate grant could make up the £339,000 shortfall.
However, some unionist councillors on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council insist sourcing the separate grant would mean the council would have no money left for other projects.
Campaigners from Dungiven met with the DCAL minister and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont last week, after which a DCAL spokepserson said: “The Department remains committed to finding a way to ensure that appropriate leisure and sporting facilities are provided for Dungiven and its surrounding hinterland.”
Derry GAA All Star, Kieran McKeever, from Dungiven and Area Sports Forum, said local sports clubs and residents are waiting to hear about the way forward.
“We remain optimistic. We’re being patient and waiting and hoping,” said Mr McKeever, who added: “If the £2.5 million is not allocated by the end of March it’s lost.”
In the meantime, the Chief Executive of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council is “exploring all options” for the proposed sports centre in Dungiven.That was the promise given to members attending a recent Leisure and Development Committee meeting.
Local TUV councillor, Boyd Douglas, told the ‘Journal’ he has never been against the project for sports facilities in Dungiven.
Colr. Douglas said while he previously abstained from voting on the project at a recent meeting, he did not vote against it.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s unlikely the sports facilities will be used because, the fact is, the location at Curragh Road is, at times, where tricolours and pictures of hunger strikers are on display. That’s not very welcoming for the Protestant/unionist community,” said Colr. Douglas.
“I have never opposed the Dungiven sports facilities. Everyone is entitled to reasonable facilities and I believe there is a need for updated facilities in Dungiven as the current facilities are not up to standard, and they need quite a bit of finance spent on them.”
Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey hopes proposals on the way forward will be brought to a full meeting of council next week.
Colr. McGlinchey said a meeting will take place in Burnfoot Community Centre on Thursday at 8 pm to discuss the sports project and to hear residents’ views.