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New £2m Thomas Davis community hub opens in south Armagh

Pictured at the opening of the Thomas Davis Community Hub are the funders of the project: Conor Murphy MLA, The Executive Office (Main Funder), Anita Waite, Department for Communities, Councillor Cathy Mason, Marie Ward, CEO of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Keith Haughian, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (Project Lead).

A new, state of the art community hub has officially opened its doors in Newry following investment of close to £2 million.

Led by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, the Thomas Davis Community Hub project received £1.57 million from Social Investment Fund (SIF), through the Executive Office’s Delivering Social Change Framework, and almost £400,000 contributions from the Department for Communities (DfC), Newry, Mourne and Down District (NMD) Council and
Thomas Davis Gaelic Athletic Club (GAC).

At a total cost of £1.9 million, the Thomas Davis Community Hub project saw the construction of a brand new, purpose built building just outside Newry City.

Boasting modern and spacious leisure facilities and a dedicated community area, the new centre offers the local community an
inclusive, accessible and versatile space to come together.

Aiming to enhance and promote active, healthier lifestyles through a wide range of sporting and leisure activities, the shared centre also aims to create opportunities for positive community engagement and development through youth outreach initiatives.

Speaking following the official opening, First Minister Paul Givan stated: “This investment is a great example of how projects delivered through the Social Investment Fund are making a real impact in local communities.

“These upgraded facilities will help to improve the health and well-being of people of all ages and abilities. They will not only provide more sporting opportunities for children, young people and adults, but also enable the club to expand the range of services they provide to their local community.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This fantastic new centre will have a hugely positive impact on the local area, benefitting the health and wellbeing of people of all ages by offering improved access to modern sporting and community facilities.

“This event also marks the closure of the Social Investment Fund in the Southern Zone. And the unveiling of this new hub is a great example of the many incredible SIF capital projects delivered in partnership with local communities that will bring people together, help improve physical and mental health, enhance access to services and offer new educational and employment opportunities.”

Chair of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s Leisure and Community Services Committee, Councillor Keith Haughian added: “I’m delighted to see the official opening of the hugely impressive Thomas Davis Community Hub in Newry today.

“The completed project, which was led by ABC Council, offers the local area and surrounding communities a modern and welcoming space to come together and enjoy a wide range of sporting and community development activities.

“The Hub epitomises the lasting legacy of the Social Investment Fund by not only helping support and enrich residents’ physical and mental wellbeing but also laying the foundations to build a stronger and more connected community.”

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “I am delighted that my Department was a partner in the development of this much needed new facility and was able to provide £240,000 funding. Thomas Davis GAC now has modern facilities for both adults and children of all abilities and is truly inclusive.

“This facility is the culmination of a real team effort with many individuals and organisations. Partnership working is vital to projects like this and I wish Thomas Davis GAC all the best in the future.”

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson Councillor Cathy Mason said: “One of the Council’s key objectives is to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in the district and reduce health inequalities and we were delighted to be able to provide £100,000 of Council funding towards this Community Hub through our Financial Assistance Programme.

“This new facility will become a thriving hub that will bring real and lasting benefits to the entire community and is an excellent example of partnership working between statutory and voluntary groups”.

Gerard O’Reilly from Thomas Davis, Newry GAC / LGFA said: “This Hub project perfectly complements the existing playing facilities of Thomas Davis (Newry) GAC / LGFA, the clubs future strategic plans and its commitment to community engagement at all levels.

“An example has been set of how a committed voluntary sector can successfully collaborate with central and local government to provide 21st century services and facilities for local communities and citizens.”

The £2 million Thomas Davis Community Hub marks the final SIF project to complete in the southern zone, which helped bring about a total capital investment of over £7.5 million to the area.

Led by ABC Council, the Programme supported 5 projects improving 18 capital premises across the zone, helping fund construction projects such as new builds, refurbishments to church and community halls as well as upgrades to football pitches and facilities.

The zone also received funding of around £2.7million for an employability revenue project which provided those who were most removed from the labour market a bridge to the world of work by improving participants’ skills and general employability.

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