Newry.ie

At last weeks Newry 20/20 meeting, members were amazed and heartened when they heard how a river was moved, 3 new bridges have been built and new parks, walkways and cycle paths created, in a £ 40M project in East Belfast. 

Newry 2020 members Garry McElherron and James McConville with Wendy Langham, Programme Manager, Connswater Community Greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Newry 2020 members Garry McElherron and James McConville with Wendy Langham, Programme Manager, Connswater Community Greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Newry 20/20 is currently campaigning for a Central Park for Newry City and hearing from Connswater Community Greenway, Programme Manager, Wendy Langham, on how their Project in Belfast is progressing, raised members spirits as to what could be done here in Newry. All that’s needed is the will and the vision to see the derelict site of the Albert Basin transformed into an idyllic destination for the whole community and future generations, bringing the heart back into Newry. To this end Newry 2020 have an online Petition with 1500 signatures collected already at www.newry2020.com/petition Feel free to add your name to the list.

The Connswater Community Greenway is a massive £40 million investment in East Belfast. The project has been developed by the East Belfast Partnership and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council and the Department for Social Development.

The Greenway will eventually create a 9km linear park through East Belfast, following the course of the Connswater, Knock and Loop Rivers, connecting the open and green spaces. The Connswater River is currently dirty and neglected. A parallel with the Clanrye river is obvious. As part of the project the rivers will be cleaned and brought back to life. The Greenway will create vibrant, attractive, safe and accessible parkland for leisure, recreation and community events and activities.

Some of the visitors to the Newry 2020 meeting with Wendy Langham, Programme Manager, Connswater Community Greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Some of the visitors to the Newry 2020 meeting with Wendy Langham, Programme Manager, Connswater Community Greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Members of Newry 2020 listened to Wendy giving details of their project which included building three bridges, moving a river, creating walkways and cycleways and working on specific themes to market the area. One of the themes concentrates on the life of C.S. Lewis, another is a Van Morrison Trail, also a George Best Trail and a Yardman Trail celebrating the men who built the ships in the Shipyard.

East Belfast one of the areas most deprived in terms of health, educational attainment and the physical environment has at long last been given a major leg up by a community led project spearheaded by Wendy and her team.

Of the area the Rough Guide to Ireland 2014 said “In East Belfast across the river beyond the great cranes of the Harland and Wolff Shipyard lies suburbia and very little of interest apart from Stormont” and concluded “It is inadvisable to visit” - Wendy and her team are making sure future editions will have a lot more positive material to report!

Giving the Newry 2020 group her thoughts on their Albert Basin project Wendy said “I would say aim high, be overly ambitious, because by the time you get to deliver it you don’t want things to have moved on. Keep the quality as high as you can. If you can, get a project to try and base your ideas on and use the workability studies already available”

Talking about reactions when they were starting out she added “People thought it was the daftest idea, no you’ll never be able to deliver it, we didn’t own any of the land, we had 144 different parcels of land to purchase” - but deliver it they did!

Newry 2020 continues to hold monthly meetings with everyone welcome. As well as tirelessly campaigning this year for a public park the group has also organised a Festival of Windows and September’s Iur Cinn Fleadh in the city. Next meeting is on Monday the 10th of November at 7.30pm in the Sugar Supper Club, Sugar Island, Newry.

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