Stormont deal gives hope for training college project at Desertcreat, Cookstown

The site at Desertcreat
The site at Desertcreat

The latest political deal at Stormont has given fresh hope that the training college at Desertcreat will go ahead, says Cookstown councillor John McNamee.

“I welcome the specific mentioning of a mechanism for funding the construction costs of the Desertcreat Integrated Training College, in the ‘Fresh Start – The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan’ document which was released following the all-party talks,” said the Sinn Fein Councillor for Mid Ulster:

John McNamee

John McNamee

“This demonstrates that rather than being ‘dead in the water’ as some local politicians have claimed, this is still an agreed development project by all of the main political parties in the North.”

But Cllr McNamee has expressed his frustration at all of the delays, development of different plans and downscaling of the project.

He continued: “This is something that was first spoken off in 2004, indeed the initial planned construction was to be finished by 2008. But we still have the same green fields at the site with no sign of any building work, this is despite that over £12 million has already been spent on the project”

“The time has now came that a final agreement needs to reached at Stormont so as building work can start. We need action not words.

Even in the most downscaled plan, it will still be an impressive project providing significant employment for the town both during the construction phase and the recruitment phase for the development

John McNamee

“Even in the most downscaled plan, it will still be an impressive project providing significant employment for the town both during the construction phase and the recruitment phase for the development.

“Hopefully this will also have a positive knock-on effect for the shops in Cookstown with more people coming to the town to either work or train at the College.”

“We have already acquired the initially planned for full site, so even if a smaller than promised project goes ahead, this can be developed further in the years ahead.”

Last month it was reported that the stalled training college project at Desertcreat, could be about to be revived, under radical new scaled-down plans.

Desertcreat College

Desertcreat College

According to a BBC report, the site would be home to the NI Fire and Rescue Service with a £44m purpose-built complex.

Under the proposals it is understood the PSNI would also be allocated about £20m to refurbish its existing training facilities at Garnerville police station in east Belfast, while the Northern Ireland Prison Service would be given funding for training at Maghaberry and Magilligan prisons as its training centre in Millisle, County But Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has said that local people are sceptical over new plans for Desertcreat after previous aspirations for the project have come to nothing.

“People here have had too many false dawns on this project and are right to treat new proposals with scepticism. It’s time we see some action to deliver on the promise of this site,” he said at the time.