Alliance meets Libraries NI over proposed closures

A delegation of Alliance Councillors in East Belfast has met with the Chief Executive of Libraries NI, Irene Knox, to discuss their concerns about proposed library closures in East Belfast and Castlereagh. East Belfast Alliance MLA Naomi Long was accompanied by Cllrs. Michael Long, Judith Cochrane and Maire Hendron, who all represent areas affected by the proposed closures at Ballyhackamore, Woodstock, Braniel, Gilnahirk, Tullycarnet and Ballymacarrett.

Naomi Long MLA said, “We felt that it was important to hold this meeting to express our concerns face to face with representatives from Libraries NI. We believe that the current proposals will result in a significant reduction in access to library services and that East Belfast appears to have been affected disproportionately harshly. We recognise that libraries need to be sustainable but unfortunately the consultation only proposes closures and offers absolutely no development schemes in East Belfast at all.

Cllr. Judith Cochrane, who represents the Gilnahirk and Tullycarent areas, added, ” We stressed the fact that we feel that the document ignores local circumstances such as the lack of adequate transport links to proposed alternative facilities and that this must be addressed. I also expressed concern that areas of great social need such as Tullycarnet now face losing a service which undoubtedly helps address the current problems of low educational attainment.

Cllr. Maire Hendron concluded, “We stressed the need for Libraries NI to look at providing more innovative proposals to address restrictions in budgets and I also stressed the important community function which is provided by libraries including to the elderly, those with young families and ethnic minority groups.”


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