US Envoy to Northern Ireland, Joe Kennedy III officially opened the St Comgall’s community facility in west Belfast today.
The project saw the transformation of a former school building into multi-use centre and was jointly funded by The Executive Office and Belfast City Council.
Comprising new offices, a café and spaces for events and exhibitions, the Grade B1-listed building at Divis Street was restored on behalf of Falls Community Council.
Speaking at the official opening, Head of the Civil Service, Jayne Brady said:
“The transformation of this former school building is a remarkable achievement. It is clear to see that the significant investment has delivered real benefits for the local community. The new facility also showcases what can be achieved by central and local government working with communities. This new facility will enhance and improve economic, educational and social structures of west Belfast for many years to come.”
St Comgall’s was a Social Investment Fund (SIF) project which was delivered by Belfast City Council as the lead partner on behalf of SIF.
Funding for the project included £3.65 million from the Northern Ireland Executive’s Social Investment Fund under its Delivering Social Change Framework and £3.5 million from Belfast City Council.
Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Áine Groogan said:
“It is fantastic to see historically significant buildings like St Comgall’s being sympathetically restored and brought back to life. I congratulate Falls Community Council for having the vision to restore and repurpose the building, and everyone who has worked tirelessly on the project over the years to make it happen. St Comgall's is now a fantastic resource for the community which has been preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
Director of Falls Community Council, Gerry McConville said:
“It is great to see the magnificent restoration of St Comgall’s/Ionad Eileen Howell which has been brought back to community use. The centre will bring economic and social opportunities to the area and indeed Belfast as a whole. The newly opened facilities have the community at its heart and is symbol of a local community with a vision for a bright future.”
Speaking at the event, Joe Kennedy described the redeveloped St Comgall’s facility as “an extraordinary asset”, saying:
“With this dedication today Belfast is launching a new era for St Comgall’s. With space for offices, community meetings, art shows, café, historical exhibits of Belfast, St Comgall’s will serve local residents, artists, businesses and even draw a few tourists. New investments like this are central elements to Belfast’s prosperous future and speak to the promises made in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.”
Paul Maskey MP said:
“St Comgall’s carries with it an educational story, as it commits to not only providing opportunities to the local community but in attracting people from across the world to visit and spend time learning of this hugely inspirational journey. And as we embark on this exciting journey, let us remember that the launch of St Comgall’s is not merely the inauguration of a restored historical building; it is a symbol of our collective resilience and unwavering commitment for a better future for all.”
Notes to editors:
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption: Pictured at the official opening of the St Comgall’s community hub are (l-r) Paul Maskey MP, Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Áine Groogan, US Special Envoy Joe Kennedy III, Head of NICS Jayne Brady and Gerry McConville, Falls Community Council.
- Further information about the Social Investment Fund, including the St Comgall’s project, is available on the TEO website at https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/topics/social-change/social-investment-fund
- More information about the St Comgall’s project is available on the Belfast City Council website at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/stcomgalls
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