Minister awaiting Brandywell report

Peter Hutton and Andres Iniesta at the Brandywell, which won't be funded for re-development until 2015.
Peter Hutton and Andres Iniesta at the Brandywell, which won't be funded for re-development until 2015.

SPORTS Minister Carál Ní Chuilín claims to have been misrepresented over the Brandywell re-development and says she is now awaiting a report from her officials, Sports NI and Derry City Council on the socio-economic and equality implications of the proposed scheme.

She complained that “the facts around funding for sub-regional stadium development and in particular how this impacts on the Brandywell Stadium continue to be misrepresented.”

The Minister also said that Derry City’s qualification for the Europa League this year made no difference to matters.

Last year the Sentinel reported the Minister’s view that no money would be available for the scheme until 2015 at the earliest.

She made the complaint about misrepresentation in response to an Assembly Question tabled by SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood.

Mr Eastwood asked why Derry City Council was not previously informed that the £36m funding for sub-regional stadium development would only be available from 2015 onwards.

He also asked the Minister “why it has taken nearly four months to acknowledge receipt of the business case for the Brandywell Stadium, Brandywell Showgrounds and the Daisyfield and to inform the council that no funding currently exists.”

She replied: “You will be aware that I have not only consistently kept Derry City Council, Derry City FC and local politicians fully informed of the position in relation to funding for sub regional stadium development, but I also met with Derry City Council officials on September 21, 2011 and March 1, 2012 where the Brandywell redevelopment was specifically discussed.”

She said she received a letter from Derry City Council - including a business case - asking for a meeting.

She said it was viewed that a meeting would not have been productive but that “she wished to consider how best my Department might engage with the Council on other aspects of its proposal.”

“Having done so, I concluded that my officials, and those of Sport NI, should meet with Derry City Council in relation to the Showgrounds and Daisyfield elements of the redevelopment since these have specific socio-economic and equality implications beyond sub-regional stadium considerations.

“I am awaiting the report of this and will continue to focus on it closely,” the Minister stated.

Last October Ms Ní Chuilín said she had no money available to help fund the proposed re-development of the Brandywell Stadium until 2015.

She said she to had written to Derry City Council explaining this. She stated: “I have written to Derry City Council to explain that Government funding is not currently available to support stadium development at sub regional level.

“By way of background, a process has been put in place to take forward sub-regional stadium development should funding become available at that time.”

Mr Eastwood’s colleague Mark H. Durkan asked if she would reconsider her position following Derry City’s FAI cup win and qualification for the Europa League.

She replied: “I would point out that I have made no decision on funding at sub regional level to assist with the development of the Brandywell or any of the other sub regional stadia nor is any decision possible at this stage.

“I have consistently stated that the Brandywell Stadium development will be considered in due course, in the context of a funding programme for local stadium development.

“I have also consistently stated that there is currently no Executive money available to fund such development in the immediate term, but that this will remain a DCAL objective in the forthcoming Budget.”

She said her Department will approach the Brandywell Masterplan on a “progressive and positive basis.”