GAA All star Kieran McKeever has hailed a decision by Causeway Council to proceed with a multi-million pound sports project for the Dungiven area as “a victory for the community”
The Dungiven man, speaking on behalf of Dungiven Area Sports Forum, was “over the moon” with the decision reached, in committee, at Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council on Tuesday.
Mr McKeever said it had been a battle fought by the entire community.
“This is a big victory for the whole community,” Kieran told the ‘Journal’ just moments after agreement was reached. “We want to thank the councillors for voting this through and to the community for coming out and supporting this. This was a community effort; people power. These facilities will be for the entire community. It’s brilliant news.”
Sports Minister Carál Ni Chuilin welcomed the decision, stating: “As well as the many sporting benefits it will bring for the community, the construction of the new complex is also economically beneficial for the borough. This is a great day for Dungiven and the surrounding area and I look forward to the commencement of construction in the coming weeks and the project becoming a reality.”
The minister said the proposal will see the centralisation of sports and leisure facilities in the town at a single site on the Curragh Road. The Department is providing £2.5m in funding for a new sports and leisure complex in Dungiven, while the remaining £339,000 is being met by the Council. The Department has, separately, committed to providing up to £350,000 to the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council in 2016/17 for the development of a multi-sport facility in the Borough, the need for which will be identified through the Council’s sports facility plan.
Donna O’Connor’s son Ryan, a douple amputee, hopes to compete in the Paralympics. They had been pursuing legal action because the project had stalled.
Ryan says he can’t open the doors of the current Sports Pavilion building in Dungiven without assistance.
“We’re absolutely delighted at the decision,” said Donna. “This is going to be fantastic for the whole area. Personally, we’re glad this didn’t have to be decided by a judge.”
Former champion boxer, Paul McCloskey, was delighted to hear the news.
This was a community effort; people power. These facilities will be for the entire community.GAA All Star, Kieran McKeever
“It’s fantastic to get it over the line, and now the hard work begins. It will be brilliant for the area, which has been lacking this for a long time. I hope to see a lot of sports stars in the future,” said Paul.
Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey said: “This multi-million pound investment will transform leisure provision in the Dungiven area. We’re all just glad common sense prevailed and we can now drive on with the project.”
SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan said he was glad the “long running saga” was over and hoped work on the project would start soon.
“I am absolutely delighted,” Colr. Mullan added.
The project had been brought to a standstill in December last year over funding, however, Ulster Unionist councillors say “following an undertaking by the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure to make up the shortfall”, they “were happy to support it”.
Councillor William McCandless said: “The Ulster Unionist grouping on Causeway Coast & Glens supported this project from day one, and we are glad to see it finally get the go ahead.
“Our only concern had been to protect the ratepayers of the Borough, and once we became aware that there was a £339k shortfall, we were unable to vote for the scheme to proceed at that stage, because we could not give preferential treatment to Dungiven at the expense of other equally worthy projects.”
According to Dungiven Area Sports Forum, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sports Minister Carál Ni Chuilin will visit Dungiven on Wednesday to launch the Dungiven Project/Sports Facilities.