Northern Ireland

Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre contractor 'threatened by UVF'

lisnasharragh
Image caption Two 3G football pitches were to have been built and a children's playground updated on a section of the site

Belfast City councillors have been told contractors in east Belfast were allegedly threatened by the UVF over the new Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre site.

It is understood work on a section to the rear of the main building has been stopped.

Two 3G football pitches were to have been built and a children's playground updated after community consultation.

A section of waste ground there has been used for bonfires in the past.

Both it and the playground are council property and should have been part of the redevelopment.

"From day one the contractor has been having problems, hasn't been able to set his perimeter around that part of the development," Alliance Party Councillor Eric Hanvey said.

Image caption Councillor Eric Hanvey said the contractor has been having problems since the start of the project

"That's still going on to this day and we're coming close to the completion of the centre."

Councillor Hanvey said one of the football pitches was purely for the community and could not have been booked through the leisure centre.

While work is continuing on the inside of a perimeter fence, nothing is happening outside it.

Councillor Séamas de Faoite of the SDLP said the reason was paramilitary threats.

"The information that has been given to councillors is that it's connected to the east Belfast UVF," he said.

Image caption While work is continuing on the inside of the perimeter fence, nothing is happening outside it

"I think it is absolutely appalling and a disgrace that in 2019 a children's playground has been blocked by a paramilitary organisation."

It is the second time in a month that the UVF has been linked to threatening behaviour at council-owned land.

Last month a contractor due to remove a bonfire at Avoneil Leisure Centre pulled out following threats.

Police said the UVF was involved.

Avoneil is the next leisure centre in line to be redeveloped.