The £7M EU-funded project in Dungannon to create a new events space at the Hill of the O’Neill, a trail through the town and a new community building, has been showcased to its funders.
More than 30 guests attended the event, which began on the historic Hill of the O’Neill where a new outdoor event space, conference facilities and viewing tower have been constructed as part of the project funded through the European Union’s PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), and delivered by Mid Ulster District Council and STEP.
The visitors then moved to the new ‘The Junction’ building at Railway Park, that three local community organisations will now call home including STEP, Willowbank Resource Centre and Inspire Mental Health (formerly Beechview Beacon Day Support).
STEP’s vision for The Junction building is to provide a shared space and hub for the community in Dungannon for a range of activities from meetings to training, workshops to events. The building has a total of 9 rooms available for hire ranging in size from small meetings rooms to a large state-of-the-art conference space that can hold up to 330 people as well as a café and casual meeting space.
A new 6.9km path around Dungannon which links key recreational spaces in the town, has also been created as part of the project.
Welcoming guests to the Hill of the O’Neill, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Linda Dillon, said:
“The Hill of the O’Neill was a hugely important stronghold for centuries and is a significant part of our heritage and a key visitor attraction in Mid Ulster.
“This funding has allowed the Hill to be enhanced yet further, opening its potential and providing a dedicated events space, which is already in demand as a location.
“Together with the addition of the pathway and the development of the new community building, this £7M investment has made a substantial difference to the town and my thanks go to all those who have contributed to the creation of such great facilities.”
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in Ireland.
Social Development Minister Lord Morrow MLA said: “The opening of the Hill of O’Neill and Ranfurly House project, supported by the Peace III Programme and with match-funding from the Northern Ireland Executive highlights the transformation that is taking place across Northern Ireland and the Border Region to facilitate real change within communities and society. My Department has worked successfully in partnership with the Special EU Programmes Body to deliver the PEACE III Shared Public Spaces Theme and we look forward to continued partnership to deliver PEACE IV”.
Commenting on the project the Minister of Environment, Community and Local Government in Ireland, Alan Kelly TD said: “I warmly welcome the magnificent new facilities provided through this project, in such an historic and culturally significant location. I know that a lot of work has gone into this much needed regeneration project and it will be of major benefit to the whole community and all those who use it, from near and far.”
Welcoming the completion of the project, Gina McIntyre Chief Executive of the SEUPB, said: “We consider projects within the shared space theme of PEACE III to be one of the legacies of the Programme as they will make a long-term and positive contribution to a more peaceful and stable society across Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. We also look forward to supporting more shared space projects and initiatives up to the value €70m within the new PEACE IV Programme.”
Bernadette McAliskey, STEP CEO continued: “We want the building to become central to community activity in the Dungannon and Mid-Ulster area. We want all individuals and groups to feel that this building belongs to them and encourage them to contribute to the building’s success as a core community facility. STEP is delighted to have been part of this project and we are grateful for the investment SEUPB have made in our community”.
For more information on the Hill of the O’Neill and new facilities contact Ranfurly House Arts and Visitor Centre on 028 8772 8600 and to find out more about The Junction, contact STEP on 028 8775 0211.