Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Attempt to block funding for re-development of Forkhill Barracks site will be thwarted by Sinn Fein

7 April, 2008

Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy has confirmed that Sinn Fein have raised a petition of concern in relation to Ulster Unionist attempts to try and block the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew from supporting the purchase and re-development of the former British Army Barracks site in Forkhill in South Armagh.

Mr Murphy said:

"The Petition of Concern raised by Sinn Féin has ensured that this very deliberate Unionist attempt to try stop the local community-led regeneration initiative, recently rejected by Finance Minister Peter Robinson, from being brought back onto the table for discussion, will fail.

"However we still face a challenge to overcome the resistance to the initiative.

"This project led by the Forkhill Regeneration Committee, is one that will benefit all. The Committee have worked for quite some time with the Department of Agriculture (DARD), Newry and Mourne Council, the Housing Executive, local businesses and sporting and community groups to present a project which will see the site delivering community facilities, social housing and business outlets.

"Rural Development is the primary function of the Department of Agriculture, and the position of the Unionists on the Assembly DARD committee is interpreted by many as a deliberate attempt to scupper the project in the south Armagh area.

"I attended a public meeting in the village last weekend, and the clear message from the community there was that they want to see this regeneration project going ahead, not implemented by Private Developers, but by the Community."

The Assembly are debating the matter today, April 7th.

Newry and Mourne Council have also arranged an emergency meeting with representatives of the Regeneration Group, DARD, the Department of Social Development (DSD) and local Councillors for this week.

Slieve Gullion area Councillor Anthony Flynn who requested the urgent meeting has said that it was essential that the project be delivered for the area.

Cllr Flynn said:

"We now collectively have to commit ourselves to ensuring that the case that we agreed together, after a lengthy series of meetings and discussions with all stakeholders, will be accepted. The decision by Peter Robinson to reject this case has to be challenged and overturned." ENDS

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