Limavady Borough Council is to consider legal action against the new Causeway Coast and Glens super council in the dispute over sports facilities in Dungiven, it has emerged.
Council lawyers have been instructed to investigate the decision by the new super council, which is currently operating in shadow form, to defer a multi-million pound project to provide sports facilities in Dungiven.
An emergency meeting of the new council will take place this evening in Coleraine as the row over the Dungiven sports facilities deepens.
The dispute emerged after a plan to spend £7 million on leisure and sports facilities in Dungiven were shelved due to a spending freeze by the new Causeway Coast and Glens council.
Sinn Féin councillor Tony McCaul had suggested his party may take legal action over the impasse. Party colleague Sean McGlinchey accused unionists of sectarianism.
Unionists, however, pointed to the extra burden the project would put on ratepayers and the fact that other projects would also need to be put on hold because of the spending freeze by way of response to accusations of sectarianism.
Councillor McGlinchey has welcomed the passing of a motion in Limavady Council instructing legal counsel to look at the Causeway Coast and Glens Councils’ decision to defer the Dungiven sports project again.
Councillor McGlinchey said: “The sports project in Dungiven had be cleared through Limavady Council before the Reform of Public Administration and construction was to begin very shortly.
“However with the advent of the Causeway Coast and Glens super Council coming into being, the decision to proceed was halted pending a review.
“I believe that this was due to the fact that the supercouncil is now unionist dominated and the decision to halt the project was sectarian.
“I also believe that the new council has not got the power to change the decision of Limavady Council so I welcome the fact that Limavady Council will now take a legal challenge on the validity of the decision taken by the new super council.
“I am determined that this first class recreation facility will be delivered for people of Dungiven on time.”
Unionists, however, reject the accusation that the decision to defer the Dungiven project was made on sectarian grounds.
TUV Councillor Boyd Douglas said: “Councillor Sean McGlinchey overacted when he stated that Causeway Coast and Glens Council was a cold place for Nationalists.
“Maybe he now knows how Unionists have been treated in recent years and that the decision to defer the Dungiven Area Sports upgrade and development was contrary to the decision last year to allocate £7,000,000 to improve facilities by the majority at the meeting in Limavady.
“After all, the Causeway Coast and Glens Council also decided to put on hold improvements to Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre and Sports Hall in Ballymoney also the proposal for additional pitches at Riada Playing Fields.”
The Ulster Unionist Party’s Aaron Callan said the decision was purely for economic reasons. ““The Dungiven project, which has received the most attention, is only one of three projects which have been deferred until October,” he said.
“Yet this project represents the majority of the spend at over £7 million. We refute the claim made by Sinn Fein that this decision was made on sectarian grounds.
“We, as a group, voted against projects for Dungiven, Benone, Riada playing fields and the Joey Dunlop Centre expansion. Therefore half the schemes we voted against were in what would be classed Unionist areas and half in Republican/Nationalist areas.
“It should also be noted that we voted for a project in Rasharkin. The decision to defer was based on an economic analysis and will only be in place until the overall appraisal of Causeway Coast and Glens leisure facilities is completed in October. Once this is done we can take a proper overview of all proposed provision and make a final decision.”