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Two newly transformed community halls in Armagh open their doors

Pictured (l-r) are; Roisin McAliskey, Deputy Chair of the Local Action Group, Gerard McClelland, Chairman of Ballymacnab Community Development Association (BCDA), Kevin Savage, Lord Mayor, and Kyle Savage, LAG Chairman, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA and Sharon Digby, Secretary of BCDA.

More than a quarter-of-a-million pound renovation scheme for two local Armagh community halls is now complete – and local residents are delighted with their newly refurbished and modernised facilities!

Securing investment of over £260,000 from SOAR ABC’s Rural Basic Services Scheme, local Armagh community groups, Redrock Development Partnership and Ballymacnab Community Development Association Ltd, proudly unveiled their newly transformed community halls this week.

Benefiting neighbouring rural Armagh communities across Killeen, Markethill and Ballymacnab, the two revamped recreational hubs are now fit to facilitate more people of various ages to come together to meet, socialise and learn as well as strengthen community bonds and help combat social isolation.

Falling into a state of disrepair, the Redrock Development Partnership community hall was given a lease of new life following an investment of nearly £100,000 from the local action group, which helped fund the centre’s extensive makeover.

With key areas of improvement identified through a local consultation, the exciting project saw the construction of a new extension enabling the hall to provide better and more spacious room to service a wider range of community groups, activities and storage.

Meanwhile local Ballymacnab community group secured over £172,000 from the same scheme, helping them turn improvement plans for their cramped community hall into a reality. The funding enabled the group to extend and renovate their out-of-date community hall so it can now facilitate a broader range of activities and events for the wider rural community.

“It is brilliant to see the incredible transformation of these two local community halls now complete,” commented Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Kevin Savage.

“Through investment from local action group, SOAR ABC, rural communities in the Killeen, Markethill and Ballymacnab areas can now enjoy and benefit from modern, spacious and fit-for-purpose community facilities, helping support a greater range of activities and events for many years to come. With many months of planning and hard work, I would like to congratulate everyone involved in helping get these projects to come to life.”

Both projects were funded through SOAR ABC’s Rural Basic Services Scheme, which helps support the provision of improvements in social infrastructure, enabling and promoting greater and more sustainable access to basic services within local rural communities.

Chair of SOAR ABC, Councillor Kyle savage commented: “This is a great and much needed provision within these local Armagh communities. Helping invigorate the local area and instilling a sense of pride, these projects will provide a central hub for all age groups to enjoy a range of existing and new activities, helping support the long term health and wellbeing of local rural residents”.

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA visits Redrock Orange Hall to see the benefits of £97,000 funding from the Rural Development Programme to upgrade current facilities that will benefit the whole community. Pictured (from left-right) are; Roisin McAliskey, Deputy Chair of the Local Action Group, Mervyn Dougan, Assistant Secretary of Redrock Organge Hall, Kyle Savage, LAG Chairman, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA, Kevin Savage, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge And Craigavon Council and William Irwin MLA.

Welcoming the refurbishment of both community halls, Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots said: “I would like to congratulate both Ballymacnab Community Development Association and Redrock Development Partnership for their hard work in securing a total of just under £270,000 grant funding from the RDP.

“I’ve had the opportunity today to see and hear how this funding has made a real difference to these rural communities through the excellent refurbished community buildings.

“When Covid restrictions recede, community halls like these will become a central hub and play an invaluable role in helping communities to build stronger relationships, and help to address the impact of the isolation associated with social distancing and shielding.”

Appointed in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area to implement the LEADER element of the NI Rural Development Porgramme 2014-2020, SOAR ABC has awarded over £1.4 million grants to some 14 projects through its Rural Basic Services Scheme.

Find out more about SOAR ABC here: www.soarni.org

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