Belfast Telegraph

£35m sporting chance for smaller firms at Windsor: Grab a share of stadium overhaul, urges Sports Minister

By Margaret Canning

Firms specialising in football stadium fittings from turnstiles to jacuzzis have been urged to join the team working on the redevelopment of Windsor Park stadium.

Newry-based construction giant O'Hare & McGovern was appointed chief contractor on the £35m project in January.

But Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín will today urge smaller firms to grab possession of the opportunities to share in the money being poured into the stadium.

The funding is made up of £31m from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and £4m from the Irish Football Association.

She said: "These events are an excellent way for firms in the construction sector – particularly SMEs – to get information on the business and employment opportunities associated with the Windsor Park redevelopment."

Delegates at Belfast City Hall will hear about sub-contracting opportunities, and will be able to talk to key organisations about tendering.

Casement Park in west Belfast and Ravenhill are also receiving massive overhauls part-funded by the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure to the tune of £62m and £14.7m respectively. Work on Ravenhill was completed last month.

The minister said "social clauses" which provide for the employment of apprentices, and other provisions to benefit the community, were an important part of the redevelopment of the stadia.

"It is an investment in sport, and we will have three world-class venues as a result.

"But it is also an investment in our economy, in communities and in people. The money must make a tangible difference to people's lives, and that is why social clauses are a key condition of the funding."

She added: "As minister, I am determined to take a pro-active approach to tackling poverty, while promoting equality and social inclusion.

"With £110m of government funding, the Stadium Development Programme is a key objective in the Programme For Government. Today is an example of positive engagement between government, contractors and local businesses."

Today's event was organised by DCAL, Belfast City Council and the Irish Football Association.

The presence of three newly-revamped stadia north of the border is also expected to improve Ireland's chances of a successful bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

 

Innovation the key word at conference

Business  leaders were urged to be more innovative during a conference on innovation, leadership and export.

Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) was hosting the second Growing Something Brilliant conference at Titanic Belfast. Mark Nodder, the president of the NI Chamber, said Northern Ireland was close to bottom of the UK league table for innovation performance — a trend which had to be reversed.

“NI Chamber supports the government’s vision for Northern Ireland to become recognised as an innovation hub and one of the UK’s leading high-growth, knowledge based regions by 2025.”

The conference heard that members were continuing to have difficulty securing funding and finding good e

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