Northern Ireland

Co Down Irish language group to lobby UK government for ‘grace period’ over funding

Castlewellan group get council support in lobbying ‘Levelling Up’ minister

Newry NMDDC HQ Monaghan Row. Permission for all LDRS to publish.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is to write to Levelling Up minister Michael Gove on behalf of Glór Uachtar Tíre.

A Co Down Irish language centre is to lobby the British government for a “grace period” over a major capital grant.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has agreed to write to UK Secretary for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, on behalf of Castlewellan-based Glór Uachtar Tíre.

According to the Gov.UK website, an amount of £204,316 was allocated to the community group in December 2022 from the Community Ownership Fund.

It is understood Glór Uachtar Tíre is seeking more time to approve the remaining funds and extend a timeframe to allow for completion of works on an Irish Language Resource Centre in Castlewellan.

The motion was brought forward by Slieve Croob Alliance rep, Andrew McMurray.

“Glór Uachtar Tire provide conversation classes, pod casts, youth clubs, activity residentials, children’s events and much more,” he said.

“They are a real asset to any community and in bringing this development forward it will also materially improve what is currently an empty facility in a prominent position in Castlewellan by bringing it back in to us.

“While the project has been approved and has progressed significantly, there have been a number of unforeseen issues, which have delayed the project. This was due to the initial property identified being removed form the market and a new more prominent property being purchased.

“The funds have already been approved and can be drawn down in the usual timeframe to secure the project.

He added: “This motion is asking the minister to respond in a positive manner to the efforts in which the group and its architect have made in order to over come the final few hurdles to see the completion of this project.”

Following an amendment by Downpatrick Sinn Féin councillor, Oonagh Hanlon, it was  further agreed to also write to Jacob Young, the under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up.

The Westminster government has provided a pot of £150m to help support local sports and cultural groups through the UK Community Ownership Fund, which will target a minimum of £4.3 million spend in Northern Ireland until March 2025.

The latest window for funding applications closed at the end of January.