SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley MLA has said the future redevelopment of Armagh Gaol can be an economic stimulus for the City and the region during a debate in the Assembly.
Mr Bradley secured an adjournment debate on the issue and speaking during the debate he said: “In May of this year, my Colleague Alex Attwood as Environment Minister granted planning approval for the redevelopment and conservation of the historic Gaol in Armagh.
“The Gaol has a chequered history, and local historians will tell many different stories of cramped and squalled conditions in the early days and how it has become one of Armagh’s best known landmarks which was designed by Francis Johnston who also designed the GPO in Dublin.
“Whilst the Gaol has a well-known and much documented history, I want to see the building given a new and sustainable long life into the future.
“This project which will see a four star hotel constructed on the site along with commercial and residential development. I believe this unique project can and will deliver a real economic stimulus for the City, and indeed the region and that’s why I want to see Executive support the project”
The project is estimated to cost in the region of £24 million and to date a considerable funding amount, almost £18million has been lined up however there is that gap of £6million.
Mr Bradley said they are looking to the Executive to plug that gap.
The private sector is contributing 33% of the total project costs with £2million from Armagh Council, £2.3 from Heritage Lottery with other funding from DSD, NIEA and Invest NI.’
“This project must happen, we cannot afford for it not to. It will crate 200 construction jobs and 150 jobs when the hotel is fully operational. These are jobs which Armagh needs and we cannot allow this opportunity to pass Armagh by.
He added: “A revised business case will be submitted to the Stormont Executive within weeks and subject to their approval, we can see construction begin on site in 2014.
“We cannot afford any delay and I hope that the Minister and the Executive will be in a position to bring good news on this project in the very near future.”