Belfast Telegraph

Renaming of Robinson Centre goes to public consultation after successful Sinn Fein motion

The leisure centre in Castlereagh at the centre of a naming controversy
The leisure centre in Castlereagh at the centre of a naming controversy
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

The naming of the new leisure facility at the former Robinson Centre site will go to public consultation after a Sinn Fein motion passed at Belfast City Council.

The Robinson Centre in Castlereagh, east Belfast, is undergoing a regeneration that will cost £20m and see a state-of-the-art facility open on the Montgomery Road site.

The centre was named after former DUP leader Peter Robinson in the 1980s, who served on Castlereagh Borough Council as a councillor.

Belfast City Council bosses had originally said the building would retain the Robinson name, however, a motion by Sinn Fein councillor Charlene O'Hara passed at council on Tuesday.

Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP argued the council had gone against it's own policy, adopted in 2008, which states leisure centres can only be named after individuals who have been dead for five years, have lived in the area of the facility, and if the family of the person approves of the move.

Cllr O'Hara told the Belfast Telegraph: “I am pleased that my motion on the naming of the leisure facility at the former Robinson Centre site has been passed at the People and Community Committee.

“The Council will now undertake a city wide consultation on the name to allow rate payers to have their say on the name of the new facility.”

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst, who sits on Belfast City Council, tweeted: "Sinn Fein and SDLP opposition to the naming of the Robinson Centre drives a horse and cart through their equality agenda.

"Buzzwords like equality and respect are only sugarcoats until Irish nationalism reaches the majority. After that it’s ‘Brits Out’. McCreesh park proves that."

Mr Robinson, in a statement to the BBC's Nolan Show last week, said: "They believe that it is not suitable to name a public facility after a democratically elected politician while their colleagues, elsewhere in Co Down, defend naming a public facility after an IRA terrorist involved in one of the most heinous massacres in the history of the Troubles."

Mr Robinson was referencing the controversy over the SDLP previously voting against renaming a play park in Newry named after IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh.

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