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Ritchie opens £800,000 sports facility at Sandy Row, Belfast

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie MLA, today officially opened a new multi-use games area in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast.

The facility will have areas to play football and basketball and will include new changing rooms. It is a result of a partnership between the Department for Social Development, Belfast City Council, the local community sector and the private sector.

Speaking at the opening, Margaret Ritchie stressed the importance of addressing the needs of the community by providing local facilities for the participation and development of sport and physical/social activities. She said: “This is great news for the people of Sandy Row and the surrounding area. Years of effort by the Sandy Row community have culminated in the construction of these state of the art facilities, which will help meet the recreational and sporting needs of the community.

“It is important that we all continue to work towards meeting the needs of those who live in disadvantaged areas and those who do not. I want to close the gap between the quality of life for people in Sandy Row and the rest of society.”

Margaret Ritchie concluded: “It is a pleasure for me to visit a wonderful example of what can be achieved by working in partnership with other agencies and the private sector for the benefit of the local community.”

Ernie Corbett, Chairperson of Sandy Row Community Forum stated: “This is very positive news for Sandy Row and the wider South West Belfast area. It will allow Sandy Row to build upon and enhance decades of service to a community that has suffered over the years from the Troubles.

“We are extremely grateful to the Department for Social Development for its significant contribution and also to the Belfast City Council for their involvement. Both organisations have helped us achieve our goal and we as a community appreciate this, and their ongoing commitment to the regeneration of Sandy Row.”

Belfast City Council, who provided the land for the facility, will assume responsibility for its future maintenance in conjunction with Sandy Row Community Forum. Councillor Bob Stoker, Chairman of Belfast City Council’s Parks and Leisure Committee said: “The Council was delighted to provide the land for the new facility at Blythefield. The project has long been in the pipeline but it has definitely been worth waiting for. I know it will bring many long-term health and sporting benefits to the local community and I am certain they will continue with long-lasting partnerships, to make sure the games area is used to its maximum potential.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The total cost of the multi-use games area was £789,699. DSD contributed £758,749; Big Picture Developments contributed £30,950. Belfast City Council has provided the land and will maintain the facility in conjunction with Sandy Row Community Forum.
  2. Media enquiries to DSD Information Office on 028 9082 9078 or Helen Mulholland on 07970 976894. Out of office hours please contact Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.