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Sinn Féin welcomes movement on Crumlin Road jail development

13 February, 2004

Sinn Fein MLA for north Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has called welcomed the movement on the Crumlin Road gaol following the appointment of a project manager under the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative. This follows a visit today by a Sinn Fein delegation to the site.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

"I welcome the recent appointment of a project manager to drive forward the regeneration of the old Crumlin Road gaol site under the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative.

"The Crumlin Road gaol site is a large fifteen acre site in the heart of North Belfast, containing grade A listed buildings. Work is beginning to clear the site of more modern unlisted premises. This is a good start.

"The Victorian buildings should be renovated and developed to the benefit of the whole community. It needs an anchor tenants and I welcome the keen interest by the nearby Mater hospital and the Public Records Office.

"There is a precedent on storing records in a redeveloped Dundalk gaol and the hope would be that it would make such records much more accessible to the public through a modern and innovative plan.

The core of Sinn Féin's view is that the community should be serviced and that job creation and reconciliation are key concepts in the future layout of any plans. However further uses are not limited and could include a youth hostel, conference facilities and a museum for example.

"The Crumlin Road courthouse, which is also grade A listed, should be a part of the overall project. It changed hands for the amount of £1 some years ago for the very purpose of regeneration and this would be an opportunity to kick-start any project. Alongside this, the British Government should also hand over Girdwood Barracks so that the 23 acres site could also be included in a comprehensive regeneration of North Belfast.

"In such a deprived area it is essential that we move quickly since it has now taken eight years to arrive at this point." ENDS

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