Money allocated for the development of a new sports facility in Dungiven has been “ring-fenced” and cannot be spent on anything else, Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has said.
DCAL is funding the Dungiven sports project to the tune of £2.5 million.
The minister was responding to East Derry SDLP MLA John Dallat who had asked if the project is “ring-fenced” in case a future minister decided to “unravel it”.
Mr Dallat asked the minister whether she agrees the recent controversy about the sports complex in Dungiven was “shameful and should never have happened”, and whether she is satisfied the money now set aside for the project is ring-fenced.
“I am content that the money has been ring-fenced. Just to make sure, I will repeat that again: the money is ring-fenced for my Department for a sports facility. I think it is incredible — and that is as much as I will say — that, in 2016, we still have people who would rather cut off their nose to spite their face,said Carál Ní Chuilín. “I think it is ridiculous that, with public money, we are still looking at an ‘us and them’ situation rather than at addressing need.
“I believe that the investment in Dungiven will benefit the people of the town and the outlying areas. The people I met came from across that community and the Member’s constituency of East Derry.
“If there is any hint, or any saying of funny business, or that nothing is going to happen, that will not happen with my money.”
The Dungiven sports project has been in the pipeline for years, dating back to the former Limavady Borough Council.
The original proposal was scaled back from an original cost of some £7 million to just under £3 million, amid funding concerns from unionist councillors on the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council.
The project was also rejected on a number of occasions in the new council, prompting bitter rows and accusations of sectarianism from some politicians.
However, the proposal finally gained the backing of the new council in January after a u-turn by unionist councillors.
This came after a protest in Dungiven and public meetings.
There was also threat of legal action by local man Ryan O’Connor, who is disabled.
The project finally got the go ahead last month.
Work on the project is set to get officially underway next week.