Dungiven Sports Pavilion Development Rejected Again. But Why?

On Wednesday of last week, Causeway Coast and Glens (CCAG) council again rejected plans to build a £2.8M leisure facility in Dungiven, Co. Derry.  The majority unionist council voted 20-17 against the building of the facility on the basis that there was a funding shortfall.  On the face of it this would seem to be a reasonable rationale for adopting this position, but some of the detail around the issue suggests otherwise.

Dungiven, a predominantly nationalist town, had originally been part of Limavady Borough Council. However, following the review of public administration (RPA) and the reduction in the number of councils here, Dungiven became part of the newly created Causeway Coast and Glens council area.

The project to replace facilities already there has been mooted for several years. The original plans, initially approved by Limavady Borough Council at a cost for £7M, were frozen by CCAG in August 2014 prior to the formal completion of RPA because of concerns about the costs involved.  The overall cost has since been scaled back to make the project more achievable, but for the second time in as many months it has been rejected again.

Following the decision, Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Chuilin, who is minister for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, wrote a piece in the Belfast Telegraph denouncing the decision.  In particular she focused on the claim that the decision to vote against approving the development was because of concerns over funding.  Ni Chuilin said;

There is a pressing need for this facility. The total cost of the new project is £2.839m, with £2.5m of this being provided by DCAL.

The remaining £339,000 had been approved by the regulator of the Landfill Community Fund and, therefore, has no implications on the district rate. The cost argument put forward against the development doesn’t stack up. Some £800,000 of refurbishment work will be required to keep the existing facility open.”

Ni Chuilin also alluded to the projected increase in revenue the facility would bring, and wider benefits to a town that suffers from income and employment deprivation.

So who’s right? Has Ni Chuilin got her numbers wrong, or is this a case of ‘petty sectarianism’ as Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey thinks?  He said:

Clearly there are still those within unionism who are more concerned with narrow and petty sectarianism than providing facilities for those they were elected to serve.

“It is encouraging that at least some unionists were able to see beyond the narrow viewpoint of others and support the development of a much needed sporting facility which would benefit everyone in the entire local community.

“We will continue to work and campaign with the local community towards the delivery of this sporting facility.”

Responding to the fall-out from the vote, UUP councillor Daryl Wilson stated that “we are looking at this in a holistic approach for the entire borough. We know there are a number of people in a number of areas where there are needs and we want to be fair to everyone. It is not that we are focusing on one area.”

This is certainly not the end of the matter, with various challenges to the decision expected in the coming months, including through the courts.  Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

  • AndyB

    I think we’d need to know more about the “holistic” plan referred to by Daryl Wilson. My initial thought is that Dungiven seems at first glance to be a sensible site for leisure facilities, given its location and size, and the distance from Limavady as a route centre in its own right.

  • chrisjones2

    When you devolve powers you give Councillors control.

    I am amazed that town the size of Dungiven is even being considered for this. The population is only about 3000 and its isolated. The center will be an economic basket case and SF are only promoting it for sectarian vote grabbing reasons leaving the Council to pick up the bill. No wonder they kicked off.

    The Roe Valley Centre is just 8 miles away!!! Economic madness

  • barnshee

    Simples— use the postcode system to surcharge the ratepayers of Dungiven for any deficits in funding —-capital or revenue assocaited with the projects

  • Robin Keogh

    The leisure facilities are already there Chris. The investment is to refurbish and improve them.

  • Robin Keogh

    It would seem a pity that the money will not be available to upgrade and improve the services at dungiven. Before we start jumping on the backs of unionist accusing them of sectarian decision making lets for once look dispassionately at the plan from an economic and financial point of view. The council is majority Unionist and if sectarianism is at play here it will not take long to discover. Lets try to trust the decision and lets see what funding decisions are granted over this council term, then draw a conclusion.

  • chrisjones2


    Its a quarter of a million of scarce cash. There is a huge centre 8 miles away in a town with a mixed community. For me tthye decision to proceed would be plain stupid and should never pass an economic appraisal

  • Cosmo

    Rural communities need to travel for amenities, but in truth this is often prohibitively costly for the unemployed, young and the old. Don’t know the details of this case, but sounds like perhaps a Community Rural Transport Scheme or an Organised Taxi Service should be investigated, so they can access excellent modern facilities ‘down the road’.

  • whatif1984true

    If Dungiven has 3000 people can anyone suggest what percentage of those would use a new centre. If the next nearest centre is 8miles away then the extended catchment area outside of the Dungiven town boundary would surely not add that many more potential users.
    If one also considers the annual running costs, is it not sensible to try alternative ways of providing the same services.
    If you provided a bus running non stop from say 10 to 10 each day would that not be considerably more efficient in money terms. Whilst it would be nice to have a centre in walking distance surely a 12 minute bus ride is not so off putting.
    Currently in Dungiven :Dungiven Sports Pavilion

    Centrally located in the village of Dungiven, the Sports Pavilion caters for indoor football, handball, racketball, squash, meetings and birthday parties.

    The Pavilion also has a new state of the art fitness suite with great value fitness memberships available, with personal fitness programmes tailored to your needs.

  • chrisjones2

    Great to see SF pissing Council’s cash up against a wall in desperation to get votes just before an election

    And dont forget the sudden creation of the Irish Medium school in Dungiven – the one that is financially hopelessly unviable

  • chrisjones2

    Happy with all that and the fact that it would then benefit everyone not just people doing sports– my issue is the sheer waste

  • Cosmo

    I agree with you asking that surely provision of access to facilities, can be solved in various ways, with possibly even a subsidised kind of taxi network ??. The article says it will take £800k to maintain the existing Pavilion. Is this already an urgent requirement relating to safety etc? Is this an estimate and has this been put out to competitive tender?

  • barnshee

    Who approved the original investment? Why are still employed –if they are

  • murdockp

    I think that the automatic assumption that councils are best placed to run leisure services is misguided. Newry spent £7m on a swimming pool that you can do everything but swim in the darn thing and closed on the very days workers (ratepayers) are off work, public holidays and forget mornings and late evenings

    Personally I think the private sector would do a better job of running leisure services in all our councils.

  • barnshee

    “I think that the automatic assumption that councils are best placed to run leisure services is misguided”

    None else will run leisure centres at a loss- (they all do) Privatisation will lead to a mixture of shorter opening hours/increase admission charges -fine for those who can afford it

  • Reader

    Chris, you have missed the point. A leisure centre in a town with a population of 3000, and another leisure centre 8 miles away? Its purpose is not to provide facilities – its purpose is to provide jobs.
    Maybe these guys can help out with facilities for the local community? That’s got to work out cheaper than 3 million pounds.