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Forkhill residents celebrate transformation of ex-military barracks site to greenspace

Back Row L-R: Seamus Crossey (NMDDC), Gerard McKeever (NMDDC), Sean Lennon (T&S Utilities Contractors), Cllr Mickey Larkin (Slieve Gullion Cllr), Justina McCabe (NMDDC Programmes Unit); Front Row L-R: Philomena Trainor (Forkhill Community Association), Elaine Carr (NMDDC PEACE Programmes Unit)

Repurposing of the ex-military barracks site in Forkhill has now been completed and a special event to mark the launch of the community open space took place on Friday, October 6. 

The site is a significant expanse in the centre of the south Armagh village and for many generations the ex-military base was inaccessible to the local community. 

For over 15 years, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has been working in partnership with the Department for Communities (DfC), Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the local community in Forkhill, in regard to assessing options for the future for the remaining three acres of land on the former barracks grounds.

In early 2021, a Public Consultation survey overwhelmingly confirmed that the local community would like to see the site retained for the community and were keen to work with the Council, DfC and others to further enhance the greenspace nature of the location.

The area has now been cleared and replanted in an eco-friendly way to allow members of the public to walk safely across the site. 

Completion of this project enables individuals, families and community groups to enjoy, respect and use the ex-military barracks as an open space that will provide opportunities for increased cross-community engagement and recreational enjoyment into the future.

This project is part of the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council PEACE IV Local Action Plan, a project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

At the official opening of the rejuvenated greenspace, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Valerie Harte said: “I am delighted that this space has now been created into a positive community resource and that residents have had their say in how the site should be used. The Council remains committed to working in partnership with the Forkhill Community and other agencies in regard to the greenspace.”  

She added: “The previously completed boundary walkway, new play-area and the overall clean-up are all stepping-stones toward the normalisation of the area.” 

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

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