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Rise of the Riverine sends clear message to funders

Hundreds of Strabane residents took part in a march to the Tinnies on Sunday afternoon to join with residents from Lifford in a public show of support for the Riverine project. DR04

THE recent Rise of the Riverine event has sent a “clear and important” message to the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) ahead of next month’s re-application for up to 8.5million Euros in funding.

Organised in response to the declined application by the SEUPB last March, hundreds of locals turned out for a family fun day, which was held at Strabane’s Let the Dance Begin structures. Walking from both Strabane town centre and from Lifford, people converged on the ‘Tinnies’ in a public display of support for the Riverine Project, which was said to have failed in its latest funding application due to an uncertainty around public usage.

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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.

“This event showed that it’s wanted,” one of the organisers of Rise of the Riverine, Cllr Paul Gallagher remarked. “It was a great turn-out. People came out and voted with their feet to say, ‘We want the Riverine.’ This was clear and important. It was a powerful thing to watch.”

According to Cllr Gallagher, a fresh bid for funding through Peace IV will be made jointly by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council on June 18.

Last month’s set-back is the third the project has faced since it was first mooted in 2010.

“The photos of the event, the press coverage and the surveys which people completed on the day will now go to council so that these can be used for the next application for funding,” Cllr Gallagher explained.

“From what we saw on Sunday, it’s evident that people want this facility. Personally, I was delighted at how it went off because it seemed to capture people’s imagination. If this doesn’t show how much people want the Riverine, I don’t know what will.”

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