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Ballymoney
Monday, October 25, 2021

£20K would be better spent on youth than a stained glass window

Independent Councillor Stephanie Quigley has questioned if the £20,000 that is being spent on a stained glass window for Coleraine Town Hall to mark the Northern Ireland Centenary would be better spent on the youth of the town.

As the minutes of the Leisure & Development Committee were being ratified at a full meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Council, the Coleraine DEA representative first asked for a point of clarification “if council had title to Coleraine Town Hall”.

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Senior council officials confirmed the Deed of Conveyance for Coleraine Town Hall, between The Honourable the Irish Society and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council was on the evening’s agenda.

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At the June meeting of the Leisure and Development Committee, members approved the appointment of Chris McClintock Stained Glass for the design, manufacture and installation of the NI 100 stained glass window in Coleraine Town Hall at a cost of £20,000. 

Councillor Quigley said: “I want you to hear my heart and the spirit behind what I am going to say.

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“It is not a political comment, the backdrop to it is I met the Heights Football team twice in the last fortnight and I was in the Coleraine West Community Centre today.

“The fencing there is tied up with cable ties and the nets are not fit for purpose and the MUGA is one of the worst I’ve seen in the borough.

“I would like it noted tonight that I am completely against the £20,000 spend. I have been lobbied pretty heavily this week and I think a great legacy for our youth and community to celebrate the NI Centenary would be some form of investment in areas of social deprivation.

“It broke my heart today to see a handful of kids sitting on the ground at the MUGA not fit for purpose.

“There’s very little for the youth in the Heights and we are spending £20,000. I don’t know anybody around the chamber tonight who could justify a £20,000 spend when we have kids with nothing to do and nowhere to go in all our housing estates within our DEA and probably right across the board. I would like it to be noted tonight.”

Speaking after the council meeting, Councillor Quigley said: “I have not heard a single positive comment in relation to the said window.

“This is ratepayers’ hard-earned money and it could have been used in more practical ways benefiting our local communities.

“£20k could have been spent on upgrading our tired play parks or investing in facilities for our teenagers, ie the MUGA and football pitch as mentioned tonight, or great community projects like Men’s Shed or other mental health and suicide prevention groups.

“I could not support this proposal at all and we need to be mindful that we are just emerging from a pandemic which has had huge financial and mental health implications right across the borough.”

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