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8 September 2005 Edition

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Leisure complex decision branded sectarian

Sinn Féin's Fra McCann has described the unionist decision to site Belfast's latest leisure centre in the Ormeau Park as sectarian.

At the monthly meeting of Belfast City Council, on Thursday 1 September, unionist councillors, with the support of the Alliance Party, voted to build Belfast's newest leisure centre in Ormeau Park rather than rebuild the Maysfield complex close to the nationalist Markets and Short Strand areas.

Sinn Féin, along with the SDLP, proposed that Maysfield in East Bridge Street, the site of the old leisure centre for 25 years until it was demolished last summer, be re-built as it was a more neutral and economically viable site.

Not a neutral site

Sinn Féin Councillor Fra McCann, speaking to An Phoblacht, warned that Ormeau Park was not a neutral site and that nationalists will be discouraged from using a leisure centre there because of its close proximity to the loyalist Ravenhill Road.

"Unionist councillors, along with their cohorts in the Alliance Party, have once again demonstrated the sectarian nature of Belfast City Council when it comes to equality decisions," he said. "When you take into account the fact that the Orange Order held their 12th of July demonstrations in Ormeau Park a few years ago, that will tell you that unionists do not want Catholics to use these facilities."

The option to build the new complex at Ormeau Park will cost the ratepayer £16.2 million, compared to Maysfield, which would have cost £7 million.

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