Shackleton Barracks, Ballykelly: Progress

Oral Answers to Questions — Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 2nd March 2015.

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Photo of Leslie Cree Leslie Cree UUP 2:30 pm, 2nd March 2015

T3. Mr Cree asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister for an update on the progress of development at Shackleton Barracks, Ballykelly. (AQT 2183/11-15)

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

I am very delighted to be able to say that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and I were in Ballykelly less than two weeks ago with the local community and with representatives of all the political parties — the Ulster Unionists, the DUP, the SDLP and Sinn Féin. I am not sure whether there were any Alliance members there but there probably were. We were there to view the ongoing demolition of military buildings on the site so that we can begin the process of relocating an entire Department, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, to the Ballykelly site.

When the Ballykelly site first came into our ownership, many people thought that it would be a hindrance to the Executive and that it would cost us money to maintain. It cost us some initial funds, but I believe that they were well spent. The site is twice the size of the Maze/Long Kesh site. The First Minister and I have been involved in some 40 expressions of interest from people who wish to go onto the site. We are absolutely confident that we can create thousands of new jobs on the Ballykelly site, which will be a major boost for people in Derry city, Limavady and the Coleraine area, not to mention Ballykelly itself, so the whole of County Derry and wider afield will benefit through the site's development. It is a very encouraging and optimistic message, and I believe that it will be a success.

Photo of Leslie Cree Leslie Cree UUP

I thank the deputy First Minister for that. I was at Ballykelly recently with the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee to have a look around and I must say that I was surprised at the number of buildings, which are in all sorts of condition. I wonder whether it is anticipated that any of those buildings will be retained.

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

I believe that some of them will be retained and refurbished. The First Minister and I have spoken to people who are looking to take out a short-term lease during this year for the next nine months. They have a project that is ready to go. Without breaking confidentiality, it is a very exciting project. For that to work for them, it will require the utilisation of some buildings on the site.