Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Byrne welcomes u-turn on south Armagh Games Area Strategy

SDLP Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Byrne has welcomed a U-turn from Council Officials in relation to the Multi-Use Games Area Strategy following his significant lobbying effort for a complete rethink to ensure Slieve Gullion was not being disadvantaged for capital investment.

As chairman of Slieve Gullion DEA, Mr Byrne had requested that both the play strategy and the MUGA (Multi use games area) Strategy were sent back to the DEA for further discussion, to ensure that residents of Slieve Gullion were fairly represented going forward.

“I have consistently argued that the criteria had favoured urban areas over rural areas and it must be addressed to ensure there is a level playing field across the entire district,” the SDLP Councillor told The Examiner.

“Developing strategies based on concentrated population figures in small radial distances only creates a tiered system where rural communities will always be at the bottom. This is simply unacceptable and I have lobbied hard to retain equitable status in relation to both strategies.’

“Rural Proofing legislation was passed in the last assembly to protect those very communities from being disadvantaged when rolling out programmes and strategies. It’s through this legislation that I requested the Director of the Council’s Active Healthy Communities’ Committee to attend our DEA meeting and take seriously my concerns regarding the unfair nature of the current criteria. One size does not fit all across the district and I am encouraged that the Director firmly understands this now. I must give credit to the Director, Mr Lipsett, for giving me a fair hearing, especially on the unfair nature of how MUGA’s were to be originally distributed across the council area.”

Mr Byrne said there is now a clear commitment to revise the strategy and develop possible locations within Slieve Gullion to deliver a Multi-Use Games Area.

“I am conscious of the fact that I can be accused of going on and on about this issue at committee meetings, but it’s simply because South Armagh deserves its fair share of capital investment, and for that I make no apology.

“I will continue to push forward on this issue and invite others to work with me to ensure South Armagh isn’t disadvantaged like it has been in the past.”