Northern Ireland news

Former police station bought by community organisation, plan for digital hub

Neil McManus, second right, with other members of the Grow The Glens committee at the former PSNI station in Cushendall, which is due become a digital hub
John Breslin

A former police station in Co Antrim has been bought by a local community organisation, which plans to turn the building into a digital hub.

Grow the Glens, an organisation that includes as one of its leaders the Antrim hurler Neil McManus, has completed the purchase of the former Cushendall police station.

"We are pleased to share our good news," the group said in a Facebook post. "After a long process we have finally completed the purchase of the old Police Station in Cushendall."

The group added: "We are working away as quickly as possible to get major renovation work underway. We will create a digital employment hub where people can live and work locally in modern state of the art facilities."

Grow the Glens Group was formed "to build skills, capabilities and facilities in the Glens of Antrim that can capitalise on 21st Century economic opportunities for the people that live here. Making it a better place to live, work and visit".

It has also filed a proposal of application notice with planning officials and have invited tenders from contractors for building works, mechanical and electrical work and lift installation. Work is due to begin in January with a projected cost of £470,000.

The station is most well known as the scene of the murder of RUC sergeant Joseph Campbell in 1977. The 49-year-old's family believe he was murdered by rogue elements of the security forces colluding with UVF killer Robin Jackson.

At the initial inquest hearing at Belfast Coroner's Court in June, Mr Campbell's family raised the question about a military officer being at the murder scene.

Karen Quinlivan QC told coroner Patrick McGurgan the claim emerged during a review exercise of outstanding legacy cases in 2016.

“We identified that there was information that suggests the involvement of a military intelligence liaison officer,” she said.

The police station in Cushendall closed in 2015. The local community organisation announced in 2021 it wanted to buy the building and turn it into a digital hub.

The proposal of application notice (PAN) submitted to Causeway Coast & Glens Council states Grow the Glens has received £300,000 from the UK's Community Partnership Fund "to develop a remote community digital hub" in the vacant police station

It is part of £4.9 million awarded to the local area in the most recent London budget, part of the levelling up fund.

But the group had also already put a call out to contractors to carry out the refurbishment work on the building.

"The works will be for building works, mechanical and Electrical and Lift installation for a period of three months and will commence not before 2nd January 2023," the tender stated, adding the total cost will be £470,000.

Northern Ireland news