Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Villagers angry at being 'left in dark' over barracks sell-off

Ballykelly residents are angry that they have once again been left in the dark over the sale of the former Shackleton Barracks.

Speculation in the Co Londonderry village is rife that the site has been sold after the selling agent, GVA Properties, removed ‘For Sale’ signs.

It is unclear if an actual sale has been agreed for the 94,000sq ft site, as a spokeswoman for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) would only say that an announcement would be made shortly.

This has exacerbated the sense of frustration felt by the local population who have long called for the site to be gifted to the community, as has happened in other sites which were handed over under the Hillsborough Agreement earlier this year.

A former military site in Omagh was gifted for use as a new multi-school educational campus to the Department of Education, while a military site at Ballymena was transferred to OFMDFM.

The Office’s spokeswoman said: “OFMDFM will be making an announcement shortly with regard to assessing the potential for the future of the Shackleton Barracks site.”

Among those seeking clarity is Tina McCloskey, chairwoman of the Ballykelly Community and Youth Association, who said the villagers are being treated very badly by both the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and OFMDFM.

She added: “The signs came down on Tuesday and the rumours started immediately that the site has been sold, but we can't get any solid information about it, so it would appear that once again the people of Ballykelly will be the last to know.

“We have been treated extremely badly all along by all concerned.

“The people of Ballykelly put up with the barracks being in the village, and in fact treated the Army very well for all the years they were here, so it is a bit galling that they didn't give the community anything back when they left.”

No-one from the MoD was available for comment.

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