Farry Slams Outrageous Claims of Sports Minister

North Down Alliance MLA and Councillor, Stephen Farry, has slammed the comments of DCAL Minister, Nelson McCausland, when he sought to blame North Down Borough Council for the delay in construction of new 50m Olympic standard pool for Northern Ireland, and instead suggested that the Minister turn his attention to the bureaucracy of government.

Stephen Farry stated: “It is simply outrageous that the Sports Minister, Nelson McCausland, would seek to blame North Down Borough Council for the delays in the delivery of the 50m Olympic Pool.

“As a councillor, I can confirm that North Down Council addressed every stage in this complex process with a degree of urgency. Apart from some minor delays around the awarding of the final contract, the slippage in the timetable lies solely and squarely with government. This applies to consideration of economic appraisals, the planning process, and securing the grant aid.

“North Down Council has managed to ensure that Northern Ireland will achieve at least one elite facility. None of the others have managed to get out of the starting blocks. The empty record of the Department is further compounded by the inability to find agreement on a shared sports stadium for Northern Ireland too.

“Given the frustrations, there were times when it was tempting to give up. But North Down stuck at it. It is worth noting that the new facility in Bangor is the only elite facility that has managed to get out of the starting blocks across Northern Ireland.

“The delays regarding the Bangor project are an illustration of the bureaucracy that is involved in producing projects in the public sector. These processes are a major competitive disadvantage for or economy.

“It would have been nice to have the new facility open ahead of the 2012 Olympics, but this is more of symbolic than practical importance. The real benefit from this facility lies in its thirty to forty year lifespan. This is a centre for local people, but it is also an investment in improving the standard of swimming in Northern Ireland, allowing world class swimmers to emerge. We will also have the opportunity to host events related to the World Police and Fire Games which are due to held in Northern Ireland in 2013, and also host pre-training for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.”

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