Fun day’s dual function as locals discuss barracks plan
A cross community fun day took place in front of the old Girdwood Army Barracks last weekend so that local people could debate the purpose of the proposed Community Hub that is to be built there.
The £9m project, in which Belfast City Council has ‘taken the lead’, is to be funded via the European Union’s Peace III funding if accepted by the body.
Local community groups, from Lower Cliftonville, Lower Oldpark and Lower Shankill are working with Council on the proposed plans for the Hub to be built on the site.
A Belfast City Council spokesperson said: “The Hub proposal has the full support of the council which has agreed that it is important for north Belfast to get an investment of £9 million from the Peace III Programme.
“Organisations such as Belfast Metropolitan College and the Prince's Trust are already interested in running education and training programmes there. But we want local people to be involved so that it will make a real difference to people's lives.
“At the moment, we can only build this facility if we receive full funding for the project.”
Manus Maguire, from the Cliftonville Community Forum, said: “This interface was once one of the worst in Belfast and now we are looking at creating an entirely different experience for local people.
“This should help to send out a much more positive, vibrant message about north Belfast.
“Myself and other community workers were out knocking doors on Cliftonpark Avenue and other streets this afternoon (Saturday, October 1) and got an excellent response to the event from local people,” he added.
William Humphrey DUP MLA said: “We were happy with the level of engagement from the local community, with a decent attendance despite the inclement conditions.
“Girdwood presents a great opportunity for north Belfast, however it is important that future development is on the basis of a shared site and a shared future at set out in the Dunlop/Toner report.”
Two months ago a political row erupted over the site between north Belfast DUP and SDLP MLAs.
The Social Development Minister, DUP member Nelson McCausland was criticised by the SDLP over his department’s decision not to proceed with building 200 houses on the site of the Girdwood barracks .
But the DUP responded by accusing the SDLP of “sectarian gamesmanship” and said north Belfast MP Nigel Dodds at the time: “The DUP wishes to see the development of the Girdwood site for the benefit of all in north Belfast.