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‘Let’s prove we want to the Riverine Project’

One of the initial artist’s impressions of how the Riverine Project might look.

A ‘POSITIVE demonstration of community empowerment’ being organised next month in a bid to save the Riverine Project.

Dubbed ‘A Walk for the Park’, the event is being co-ordinated by a number of local people who were both angered and disappointed at last week’s revelations from SEUPB (Special European Union Programmes Body) that Riverine failed to meet the set criteria for funding.

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This is the third set-back the project has faced since it was first mooted in 2010 and in monetary terms, this most recent strikeout could result in the loss of up to 8.5million Euro.

The Strabane Chronicle further understands that the local project missed the scoring threshold for funding by a single point.

“As I understand it, according to SEUPB, it wasn’t proven in the submission that the community would use the Riverine facilities,” Strabane independent councillor, Paul Gallagher said this week. “So based on that, let’s prove we want it.”

One of the organisers for ‘A Walk for the Park,’ Cllr Gallagher is encouraging as many people as possible to get involved.

“On Sunday April 8 we want to organise a community-type festival and a parade – or walk – going from Strabane to Lifford. There’ll be face-painting, a bit of music and hopefully people from the wider Strabane-Lifford communities will come along and show their support.”

He added, “This isn’t a protest or a Cllr Gallagher crusade. It’s a positive demonstration of community empowerment and a demonstration of will and the need for a park.”

Billed as “an iconic shared space that is non-contentious and non-sectarian through the border riverside areas,” among the Riverine proposals tabled were the development of cycle paths, a pedestrian bridge between Strabane and Lifford, a green area, public art and interactive play areas.

Following the outcome of the SEUPB decision, both councils are actively following up with the funder to establish the potential options that may be available in the continued promotion and development of this key project.”

In a joint statement issued on behalf of the Sinn Féin groupings on Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, Donegal Cllr Gary Doherty and Strabane Cllr Brian Mc Mahon, said, “Despite this setback we are still strongly hopeful that the Project can still be secured.

“Most other projects that similarly made it through Stage Two of the process were also unsuccessful at this juncture but given Riverine was so well pointed in the process and given that the vast bulk of the 53million Euro in this traunch of funding still remains to be allocated, we are still confident that we can get this project over the line when it is put out for a ‘fresh call’ in a short time-framed period ahead.

“This visionary cross border project must proceed as it will totally transform the amenity between Strabane and Lifford. Every effort must now be made and we must all work together collectively to get it over the line.”

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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