Naomi Long MP said: “We welcome the fact that, following our work with local library users and the representations which were made to Libraries NI the proposals to close the libraries at Ballyhackamore, Tullycarnet and Woodstock have been abandoned, and I hope that their long-term future has now been secured by this decision.
“I am, however, deeply saddened that Ballymacarret, Braniel and Gilnahirk libraries are now set to close. These libraries are a vital resource and their loss will really hurt the communities in question. Libraries are not just about books, they assist with literacy programmes, provide a focal point for community activities, assist in skills and training, and provide access to the internet and other services and these losses will be keenly felt by those who rely on their services.
“In the case of Ballymacarret, this is the loss of a vital educational and social resource in an area of significant deprivation, whilst in Gilnahirk and Braniel, many people will find it impossible to access the alternative services proposed due to poor transport linkages. It is also sad that some of the libraries which are now to close saw their hours significantly cut by previous education and library board decisions, undermining their sustainability. I trust that the lessons of the failings of that process have also been taken on board by Libraries NI.
“We will be seeking a meeting with the Head of Libraries NI to assess the situation in the wake of these announcements and to work with them to do all that we can to mitigate against the worst effects of the proposed closures and ensure that every person in the constituency can have proper access to a quality library service into the future.”