Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin set forward proposals for North Belfast leisure centre

26 September, 2003

Sinn Féin representative Gerry Kelly alongside the north Belfast Sinn Fein Councillors have laid out their proposals for a site to accommodate a new leisure centre planned for north Belfast. The plan, which is to be initiated by 2006, will provide a much needed leisure facility that is accessible to nationalists living in north Belfast.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

"The need for a leisure centre that is accessible to nationalists in north Belfast has been ignored for over thirty years and one is greatly need. What we have are centres in the Shankill, Ballysillan and the Grove on the Shore Road and this will hopefully go some way in redressing the balance.

"Sinn Fein have consulted widely around this issue and the site on the bottom lake of the Waterworks is the most appropriate. Other areas looked at were either inaccessible or had insufficient acreage. There is also the benefit of this land already belong to Belfast City Council which would negate the need for other land to be acquired

"On the environmental side the main concern, following consultation, lies with the top lake of the Waterworks. It is the main habitat for both feeding and breeding for over 200 swans that use both the Waterworks and Victoria Park.

"If done sensitively, taking in one whole natural season, there would be minimum disturbance to the life of the swans. Indeed swans loose their flight feathers once a year and this would be an appropriate time for moving them.

"It would also go some way to resolving the problem of the swans being fed by visitors to the park. The main food given to the swans is bread. This has an adverse affect on the water quality as it is not the swan's natural food type and is poisoning the lake.

"What we would recommend is a further management programme for the upper lake with extra resources for walkways, jetties and information boards to encourage visitors to use the park and accommodate other pass-times, such as fishing, without having an adverse affect on the local habitat.

"If managed in the right way and sensitive architectural considerations were followed it would result in a leisure facility that was in harmony with the natural beauty of the park and the local surroundings. Indeed the leisure centre could become a feature of the park and north Belfast as a whole." ENDS

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