Northern Ireland news

Meeting held over Belfast football pitch plans on bonfire site after 'UVF threats'

Lisnasharagh Leisure Centre in east Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

COUNCIL representatives have met with community workers to discuss football pitch plans for a bonfire site following claims that builders faced UVF threats.

A meeting was held last week about the works in east Belfast to construct new 3G pitches and refurbish an existing play park, The Irish News understands.

Councillors and council officials were involved in the discussions with community reps about the plans, which are part of a £20 million redevelopment of the old Robinson Centre.

It follows concerns last month that the works could be abandoned after councillors were told contractors had been threatened by the UVF over the site, which has historically been used for an Eleventh night bonfire.

Last month it was claimed contractors had been "forced off-site twice" following threats alleged to have come from the East Belfast UVF.

However, police said they had not received any reports of threats made against contractors.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson also denied that contractors were threatened by loyalist paramilitaries.

He was speaking on behalf of a group calling itself the 'East Belfast Community Initiative', which claims to "mediate on behalf of ex-combatants formerly linked to the East Belfast UVF".

He said the community group has been working with the council and contractors "to try and find positive solutions to this particular issue".

A Belfast City Council committee later met to discuss the Clonduff Drive site and agreed to press ahead with the football pitch plans.

Council officials hope the redevelopment can be finished by the end of the year.

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