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Dungiven: Capital Investment

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Arts and Leisure – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 14th September 2015.

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Photo of Cathal Ó hOisín Cathal Ó hOisín Sinn Féin 3:00 pm, 14th September 2015

4. Mr Ó hOisín asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure for an update on capital investment for Dungiven as part of the City of Culture legacy for the north-west. (AQO 8620/11-16)

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

I thank the Member for his question. I am committed to seeking to secure £2·5 million for the development of a community sports facility in Dungiven as part of the legacy of the City of Culture for the north-west. That commitment, like all major capital investment, is subject to budget availability and to the approval of a business case that will include confirmation of any necessary partnership funding for the project.

I understand that the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has completed a consultation exercise on plans for sporting provision in Dungiven and is progressing with the development of a business case and detailed designs. Officials from DCAL and Sport NI are working very closely with the council to provide support and advice on the business case. In addition, under the boxing investment programme, Sport NI has issued an indicative letter of offer to St Canice's amateur boxing club in Dungiven, and that club also received boxing equipment with a total value of £1,600. In the last financial year, DCAL has also provided £12,000 for a range of digital equipment for the cultural hub at the Benbradagh community association through the north-west social and economic development plan.

Photo of Cathal Ó hOisín Cathal Ó hOisín Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as ucht a freagra. The Minister knows well my personal interest not only in this but in the North Coast Sports Village, which, of course, was the partner project. Can the Minister give me an idea of a completion date for the community sports project in Dungiven?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

In anticipation of your question, I checked with officials, and things are very well progressed. I have made very public commitments at every opportunity about the investment in the Dungiven area, but there are governance issues that we need to cover, not due diligence. We need to complete the business case and ensure that the security of the additional funding that is needed is there and that it has the approval of council. The Member will be aware, particularly with the new super-councils, that there are new criteria. All that is in a good place, and, like the Member, I look forward to making a public announcement of when the programme can be delivered.

Photo of Fearghal McKinney Fearghal McKinney Social Democratic and Labour Party

The Minister has touched on my question. Can she detail the extent of partnership funding required for the project?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

I mentioned that in response to Cathal Ó hOisín; the Member referred to that. We are working very closely with the council. It is a very positive experience in that people want to see the programme delivered in the same way that the programme and the sports facilities were delivered for Coleraine. It is part of that package. There is a process to make sure that the committees and the full council have ratified the money, but, as well as that, that the questions and queries, now in their final stages, in the business cases are completed before a final announcement is made. I have no reason or indication to believe that any of that is impossible. In fact, I am very optimistic that we can announce it fairly soon.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Can the Minister justify to the arts sector, particularly to those groups that have suffered 20% cuts, why they have had to endure reduced funding this year or even had funding withdrawn in-year while she is able to find additional capital funding for the Dungiven area related to the Londonderry City of Culture? What measure of sustainability is being used to ensure that, in the future, money will be available for all groups?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

One is a capital programme, and one is a resource programme. That has been organised and developed for at least a year and a half. That is why good progress has been made. In terms of the resource, that is the difference between the capital and the resource: further money for the Arts Council. The budgets have not been confirmed yet.

I absolutely can justify it. Even though the Member lives in the east of County Antrim, he will know that, particularly in that whole swathe of the shoreline and in the north-west and particularly west of the Bann, investment of this nature has not been what it should have been for decades. He may be happy enough or content with that, but I am certainly not. I am also certainly not content with a lack of support and value, particularly around the arts. Given the seriousness of that, perhaps people will now see the need to support an overarching all-departmental strategy for culture and arts.