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Paul Givan reveals plans for Northern Ireland community halls to receive £2m boost

By Claire O'Boyle

Published 14/01/2017

Announcement: Paul Givan
Announcement: Paul Givan

Communities Minister Paul Givan has announced plans for almost £2 million to go to community halls across Northern Ireland.

Over 850 applied for the scheme - which is aimed at helping struggling community groups do essential building work - and 90 were successful.

When the pilot programme was launched last October Mr Givan identified £500,000 for improvement works to community halls, but yesterday's announcement revealed the spend would be almost four times that at £1.9m.

Mr Givan said: "This was a hugely oversubscribed programme with more than 850 applications received. Following assessment of these applications, I am pleased my department has been able to support 90 organisations in this financial year.

"My department will work with these organisations going forward to ensure the successful delivery of very worthwhile community projects.

"The result will bring a positive change to much-used community facilities right across Northern Ireland." Orage Order deputy district master of Sixmilewater, William Strange, welcomed the funding. He said: "This is a great boost for our hall and the local community."

The department was not able to provide any breakdown of which community halls across Northern Ireland were successful, or details of what type of group will benefit from the scheme.

It was one of a series of announcement yesterday from the Executive Information Service ahead of the expected shutdown of Stormont.

Mr Givan also announced a £3.7m facelift for Lisburn.

The project will upgrade footpaths, lighting and street furniture. The Department for Communities is investing approximately £2m in this project, with Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council investing a further £1.7m.

The Lisburn Linkages project will include Bridge Street, Antrim Street, Railway Street, Castle Street, Seymour Street, Bachelor's Walk and Market Place.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir confirmed he had instructed counsel on his intention to challenge the penal provision over the use of the Irish language in the 1737 Act of Parliament.

The Act, which has now been in force for almost three centuries, requires all court proceedings to be in English and makes it a criminal offence to use any language other than English.

Mr O Muilleoir also announced his plans to purchase new art for the Civil Service Art Collection.

Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen announced a new training programme for farmers and growers applying for a farm improvement scheme.

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