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Film studio could sue over sale of Army base

By Donna Deeney

Published 04/03/2016

An aerial view of a memorial garden at Shackleton Barracks
An aerial view of a memorial garden at Shackleton Barracks

A film studio says it is taking legal advice following the announcement of the sale of the former Shackleton military base near Ballykelly to Co Tyrone-based company MJM group.

Shackleton Studios Ltd says it is making the move after the base was sold off by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister last week.

The company said it would release further details once that legal avenue was complete.

The community in the village got a glimpse of the benefits coming their way from the sale of the vast site.

The new headquarters for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will occupy part of the land, bringing an anticipated combined total of 1,600 jobs to the north west by 2020.

That isn't the end of the good news for the people of the village, because after a long campaign calling on the Executive to honour the wishes of the Ministry of Defence and gift a building to the community, this has been included in the sale.

Campaign leader Tina McCloskey was among those who met with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill on a tour of the village, where department staff even lent a hand at the local playgoup.

Mr McGuinness said the approval of the DARD application coupled with the plans of the site's new owners MJM Group would be a game-changer for the entire area.

He said: "This combination of private sector and public sector working alongside each other to develop and sustain the vast site means the entire community in Ballykelly benefits.

"This isn't just about people in public sector jobs moving and keys changing hands, it is a culture shift and gear change in how Government operates."

Part of the criteria in selling the Shackleton site was the demonstration of benefits to the local community and the successful purchaser has promised to refurbish the former Army dining halls for the community association.

Ms McCloskey said: "We are over the Moon knowing that our hard-fought campaign has ended and we will soon have a new community centre that we can be proud of.

"The new owners of the site have given us the building that was the dining hall for the soldiers, and that is perfect for our needs because it has high ceilings, but on top of that MJM have also given us the tennis courts which will be a play area for the children of the village, and have pledged to refurbish both before handing them over."

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