Northern Ireland

Glenariff: DUP halts £180k Glens community funding over 'IRA names on gates'

Artist's impression of building Image copyright ON & FA Wheeler
Image caption Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council allocated £180,000 to the community centre project last month

Funding for a community project in the Glens of Antrim has been pulled indefinitely because of a row over IRA names on the gates of the planned site.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council allocated £180,000 to the project on 24 May.

But the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said the building of the centre in Glenariff would "re-traumatise" people affected by terrorism.

The DUP has pointed to the names of IRA men that appear on gates near the site.

Charlie McAllister and Pat McVeigh were killed in 1922 and their names are on gates that lead into the Glenariff GAA grounds, where the community centre is planned.

Abuse

A lawyer will now have to look into the ruling by the council's leisure and development committee and advise the council on a way forward.

The money was to be allocated to the Friends of Glenariff group to build a shared community space.

Glens Sinn Féin councillor Cara McShane said the action by the DUP was a "vile abuse of power".

"I feel for this community," she said.

Image copyright ON & FA Wheeler
Image caption Building the community centre in Glenariff would "re-traumatise" victims of IRA terrorism, the DUP says

"There is no political agenda here and the last thing anyone wants is for this facility, which is much-needed in a rural community, to be used for political point-scoring.

"People are very emotional.

"The Friends of Glenariff have been working hard for almost six years to organise this project and now there's a chance it won't go ahead, even though council has already passed the motion."

Offensive

Ms McShane said the planned community centre would be "open to all".

"If the Orange Order wanted to use it they would be allowed," she added.

"It's about all communities, sports and activities - not just the GAA."

DUP councillor Sam Cole said the position of his party was that the gates must come down.

He said: "The decision to fund a community centre here would be opposed by one section of the community, namely the unionist community.

"We find the presence of the names on these gates offensive.

"We feel they say: 'Protestants aren't welcome'."

Mr Cole said he would support a centre that was welcoming to all and said the funding is not in line with the council's guidelines.