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21/09/2021

Derry council calls for Phase 2 Brandywell stadium development

Derry council calls for Phase 2 Brandywell stadium development

The new Brandywell stand after it was completed in 2018.

Local councillors have unanimously supported a motion which urges central government to deliver phase two development of the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

In 2018 a new 955 seater stand incorporating changing rooms and media facilities was completed at a cost of £7m.

That brought the existing capacity of the ground to around 3,700.

However, that was supposed to be part of wider development at the stadium with a second phase increasing capacity to 5,000.

At the monthly meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council, Aontú Councillor Emmet Doyle tabled a motion on the issue.

He asked for the council to write to the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, seeking an update on funding plans in relation to the Brandywell and other relevant stadia via the Sub-Regional Stadia programme.

The motion also asked for officials from the department to brief councillors on plans for Phase 2 of the Brandywell and re-iterated the council’s commitment to its full development.

The Regional Stadia Programme and Sub-Regional Stadia Programme for Soccer are designed to address the deficit in sports stadia provision in Northern Ireland.

The sub regional programme is also a commitment in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement. A budget for the programme stands at £36.2m.

Councillor Doyle said it’s nearly 10 years since the sub-regional programme was created yet many clubs and facilities, including the Brandywell, are still waiting for their promised investment.

He said that based on Minister Hargey’s recent responses to MLAs it doesn’t seem any further forward.

Phase 2 of the Brandywell’s redevelopment has full planning permission and detailed drawings have been completed, Cllr Harkin told the meeting on the authority of planning officers.

He therefore questioned the hold-up saying that supporters and service users deserve upgraded facilities.

Cllr Doyle stated: “It shouldn’t be acceptable ten years down the line from a scheme that was meant to lift all boats in terms of sub-regional stadia that the Brandywell is still waiting for its Phase 2 investment.”

SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney seconded the proposal saying that council wrote to the previous Minister for Communities before the Assembly collapsed.

He said an announcement must be provided and the council should encourage all clubs and bodies to apply for funding.

Cllr Tierney said: “Last time over £100m went to Belfast stadiums and I think we got £900,000 here in the North West.

“So I think it’s about time we got organised here in the NW and started helping and supporting clubs who do have ambitious plans.

“I know Institute for example have ambitious plans and I’m pretty sure if they don’t now, Strabane Athletic will have ambitious plans as well.

“Hopefully this is a stepping stone to seeing progress at the Brandywell because whilst it is a top-class facility there is still work to be done,” Cllr Tierney added.

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue supported the proposal saying ‘huge work’ has been completed but agreed that more should be done.

Whilst ‘appreciating the proposal’, UUP Alderman Derek Hussey proposed an amendment that ‘other relevant stadia’ be included, which was supported by other representatives.

Independent Strabane Councillor Paul Gallagher said the amendment was ‘very relevant’ for the entire district as he ‘gets the sense that Derry City Football Club thinks that local council can just bankroll their stadium, the Brandywell, and council is at the behest of them’.

He questioned how much of ratepayers’ money goes into the running of the Brandywell.

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