Desertcreat: Work to start on training college but revised plans remain unclear

Pacemaker Press 12/3/2014 
The Site of the new Police college  at Desertcreat near  Cookstown Co Tyrone.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 12/3/2014 The Site of the new Police college at Desertcreat near Cookstown Co Tyrone. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Work on the almost-forgotten training college at Desertcreat is expected to start shortly according to the Deputy First Minister, but what exactly will be built at the site remains unclear.

Martin McGuinness laid the blame for delays on the training college at Desertcreat firmly at the feet of the PSNI.

But he also told the Times in Cookstown last week that he is “absolutely confident work will begin on the project very shortly” and that it is still “very much live”.

He said: “I was very disappointed to learn there was opposition within the PSNI to moving their part of the operation to Desertcreat. But we are still very committed to ensuring work begins at Desertcreat and that we do provide first class facilities for our emergency services.

“I have not been behind the bushes in terms of my criticism. At the very beginning the PSNI actually signed up for this. They were the ones that pulled out, and I think that was a mistake.”

The Mid Ulster MLA, along with First Minister Arlene Foster, said that the Assembly recently approved new proposals from the health and justice ministers for the site.

Mrs Foster said: “I don’t know that it’s going to be police, but certainly fire are going to go ahead.”

Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said: “The PSNI, as equal partners has participated fully in the review of the project, and understand that the Executive approved a revised Strategic Option on the 10 March.

“We will continue to work with both departments and the Executive, as well as our colleagues in other services, to ensure we all have fit for purpose training facilities that support continuous professional development for our officers and staff to help keep the community safe.”