I have no doubt other parties are pleased that the Valley Park redevelopment scheme is going ahead. Indeed, unbelievably some others are actually claiming some sort of credit for it.
But it is worth reminding all of them that they all supported building the so-called Peace and Reconciliation Centre at the Maze and it was only the campaign led by the Ulster Unionist Party and supported by victims’ groups right across the divide that brought about the massive DUP u-turn which collapsed that Maze project and instead put the money for schemes such as the Valley Park back onto the table.
Unlike other unionist MEPs, Jim Nicholson always felt the best use of this money was not on the divisive Maze project but on the ground addressing the key issues of sectarianism and division that continue to hold Northern Ireland back.
The Valley Park scheme was always and already right at the very top of the Special EU Programmes Body’s list of projects to fund, before the terrorist shrine at the Maze, supported by the DUP and Sinn Fein and all the other Executive Parties, took all the funds away from local projects.
The work on this project has been ongoing for several years and the real credit for the real shared space, shared future scheme at the Valley Park does not belong to any political party, but should go to Newtownabbey Council officers led by the Director of Development Services, Majella McAlister, who put together such a wonderful bid to continue to build community relations across our borough. This allied with the successful ‘Stop the Maze’ campaign, led by the Ulster Unionist Party and supported by organisations the length and breadth of Northern Ireland, took the funding away from the divisive Maze project and consequently enabled this wonderful scheme to proceed.
Cllr Mark Cosgrove, UUP
Antrim Line DEA