Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has welcomed the news that Social Investment Fund (SIF) projects have received their final approval.
The First and Deputy First Ministers signed off on the final projects for the fund during the week.
Mr Boylan, who was the only representative from Newry and Armagh on the SIF Steering Group, said the fund represented an incredible windfall for the area.
“It has been a long, at times difficult process, but the huge benefits this will have for local communities have made it all worthwhile,” he said.
“Of the £80m fund more than £8m will come into the Southern area for a vast range of training, job creation, development and new build projects.
“Particularly significant projects include the Armagh Harps community hall and sports complex,
Silverbridge GAA and Community resource centre, Pearse Óg GAC and Community functions suite, Clady GFC leisure facilities, Cullyhanna St Patricks GFC and Community group project and funding for Thomas Davis GFC, Corrinshego.
“The Social Investment Fund as a whole has been an incredible success. Not only are all projects now committed, but delivery is progressing apace. Across the north some 38 projects worth over £48 million have commenced delivery and 15 projects worth £26 million are operational. That includes four capital projects that have completed construction and which are delivering vital services in local communities.
“More than 800 people are now benefiting from paid work placements and training to support employment worth £18•5 million and over 80 have already secured jobs. More than 1300 children and families are benefiting from early intervention projects with £5•7 million allocated to support physical, intellectual, social and emotional development. Another 1000 children and families are benefiting from dedicated educational support projects worth £5•5 million and the fund will continue to grow in success as more projects commence and become operational this year.
“It has been a real privilege to work on the SIF Steering Group and be able to deliver real, tangible results for communities. I trust that those who initially rubbished and belittled the fund will now look at the tremendous good it is doing and perhaps engage more constructively in the future.”
Party colleague Megan Fearon also welcomed the news. The South Armagh MLA is a Junior Minister in the Executive Department; the body behind the fund.
“The purpose of SIF was to ensure that money went to the areas that most needed it; that investment was delivered to the most socially deprived areas within constituencies, tackling poverty, unemployment and physical deterioration,” she said.
“We worked with local community groups, development groups and sports clubs and were consistently impressed with the community spirit, strength, determination and ingenuity of our local communities.
“When you look at the real benefits SIF is yielding for communities I think it’s quite clear that we have managed to produce and deliver a broad range of funding, representative of the entire population, which is having real positive effects for communities in terms of infrastructure, job creation, sports facilities and cross community initiatives.
“This is real delivery for real people; something Sinn Féin has committed to doing, has delivered and will continue to deliver in the future.”