Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has paid tribute to “sports mad” Dungiven and hailed it as an example to other communities across the North.
Speaking in Dungiven on Wednesday, welcoming news a multi million pound sports complex is to be built in the town, he said local people had campaigned and “made a very convincing argument”.
“Clearly, this issue created huge disappointment and tension within the community, but that’s over now and now it’s a matter of pushing on and getting the building up and allowing people to enjoy the facilities,” he told the ‘Journal’.
“The local community understood the power of their protest and that’s what won out in the end.
“When you’ve people the calibre of Kieran McKeever and Paul McCloskey on board, it’s clear this is a huge issue in the local community and it was an issue that had to be resolved. What has been a bad bit of publicity for the local council has now been resolved by the council taking the right decision.”
Mr McGuinness, who revealed GAA star Kieran McKeever is a hero of his, said: “I stood on Hill 16 in 1993 with my two sons and watched Kieran, and Joe Brolly and big Anthony (Tohill) and Brian McGlligan - people who were the mainstays of what was a great Derry team - and when you see Paul McCloskey rising to world champion level, and when you see sports people of that calibre exercised by this campaign, then it was never a campaign that was going to fail.
“I think it (Dungiven) is an example to communities everywhere about the need, when you feel an injustice has been done, to stand up for yourself.”