It was a case of ‘people power’ in Dungiven on Wednesday as hundreds of residents took to the streets for a rally following a controversial decision that put the brakes on a multi-million pound sports project that would have delivered “much needed” facilities for the area.
Residents and sports clubs in Dungiven have, however, vowed to fight the decision, which was taken by some of the councillors on Causeway Coast and Glens Council last Tuesday.
The sports complex could have been built with no cost to ratepayers, according to Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuillín, who had pledged grant aid of £2.5 million from her department. The remaining funding needed to deliver the project totalled £339,000 and a grant for that amount had been approved by the regulator of the Landfill Community Fund, but required Borough Council agreement.
Those who attended the rally gathered first at the Castle in Dungiven before making their way down Main Street with members of sports clubs holding banners with the messages: ‘No politics in sport’ and ‘All we want for Christmas is our new sports facilities’.
GAA All Star, Kieran McKeever is spokesperson for the ‘Dungiven and Area Sports Forum’. He said the huge turn-out at the rally showed the disappointment there is, “but we still need answers”.
“We are hoping that when the councillors who voted against the recommendation to go ahead with this project see the turn-out of people they will explain their decision,” said Kieran. “Hopefully, the community’s voice will be heard. We’ll take a day or two now to see what happens, and then meet as a group again. People aren’t going to rest without getting answers.”
Hopefully, the community’s voice will be heard.GAA All Star, Kieran McKeever
Dungiven woman, Donna O’Connor, is taking legal action following the decision not to proceed with plans for the project.
Donna’s 21-year-old son, Ryan, lost both his legs following complications from a heart transplant in 2012.
“The disappointment among the people gathered was palpable,” said Donna, who attended the event. “Kieran McKeever said he had invited 40 members from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to attend and explain their decision. Apart from local councillors who were present, he said he received not one response. This is a fight for me as a parent, yes, but it is also a fight for the community.”
Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey said: “People are fighting back because they can’t understand why this project to deliver much needed facilities isn’t going ahead. This is people power, and it’s only the start of it. We are not giving up on this project.”
Hear more reaction from sports clubs and residents in Dungiven here: www.derryjournal.com/news/dungiven-mum-challenges-those-who-voted-against-multi-million-pound-dungiven-sports-project-1-7120204