SDLP councillor Brian Tierney has welcomed support for his call to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to release funding to upgrade football stadiums across the North.
Councillors on Derry City and Strabane District Council unanimously backed a motion from Councillor Tierney.
He called on Minister Hargey to open the Sub-Regional Stadia Programme for Soccer funding before the end of the current Assembly mandate.
Councillor Tierney said:
“Councillors in Derry and Strabane spoke with one voice this week when they backed my plans to ensure this money is made available to clubs who need it before the end of the current Assembly mandate. This money has the potential to be transformational for clubs in our council area and right across the North and they have already waited far too long for it.
“The DUP’s short-sighted and self-interested decision to collapse our Executive has thrown this programme and a number of other key projects to benefit local communities into doubt and should be widely condemned. However, myself and my SDLP colleagues have been urging Minister Hargey to release this funding since the Executive returned over two years ago and she has shown no urgency whatsoever.
“Clubs are crying out for this money. Derry City’s game against Shamrock Rovers at the Brandywell tonight is already sold out, there is a great feeling around the club and they are clearly struggling to keep up with demand, there’s never been a better time to redevelop the stadium. Institute are without a permanent home and were hoping this money would help them plan for the future and that’s before you get to the likes of Glentoran and Coleraine who are also relying on this funding to take their clubs forward.
“Both in the Assembly and at council level we have heard politicians from all parties stress the importance of this funding. It’s clear the political will exists to get this scheme open as soon as possible. We have seen other important decisions made in the absence of an Executive and Minister Hargey needs to explore every option to get this money out.”