Northern Ireland

Belfast City Council and GAA provide £15m for sports pitches

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Media captionThe funding was announced at an event in Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Council and the GAA are providing a combined £15m for sports pitch improvements across the city.

The aim is to improve playing surfaces, encourage greater use of facilities and boost excellence across a range of sports.

The money is part of the council's £150m investment programme.

The front lawns of Belfast City Hall have been transformed with mini goalposts to celebrate the announcement.

"Encourage"

Speaking at the event, Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon said she was "delighted".

"There's no doubt we punch above our weight when it comes to sporting success, but continued success requires strong grassroots investment," she said

"Today's partnership investment with the GAA underlines our commitment towards improving provision at a local level to encourage more people to take up sport and boost the possibility of even more success in the future."

The council is providing £14.1m from its £150m city investment programme and the GAA is giving contributing £1m. Six schools will get £750,000 to install floodlighting and all-weather pitches.

"Commitment"

Five new 3G pitches and eight new changing facilities will also be developed at ten other sports sites across Belfast. The synthetic pitches can be used all year round. Construction is under way at Cliftonville playing fields with Falls, Ormeau Parks, Woodlands and Cherryvale playing fields soon to follow.

Director general of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, said he was pleased that they could be involved in the project.

"This will provide new multi-sport pitches that will be suitable for both training and the playing of Gaelic games. We warmly welcome this, along with the commitment from Belfast City Council to partner with the GAA in developing new programmes in the future." he said.