Protest staged at Bangor pool preview

Protest staged at Bangor pool preview

The preview of a new state of the art leisure complex in Bangor, Co Down, has been marred by a small protest against the presence of the Sinn Féin Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.

A handful of people decked out in Union flags and carrying a poster claiming that Ms Ní Chuilín wasn't welcome stood outside the multi-million pound Bangor Aurora complex.

The facility, which counts Northern Ireland's first Olympic-sized pool among its many features, has been assigned as a venue for the 2013 World Police and Fire Games in August.

On Wednesday, the sports minister previewed the pool which has been designed to the international standards of the world governing body for aquatic sports, FINA.

This is a place where the athletes of today and tomorrow will train and compete - where champions will be inspired to give their all and be nurtured to achieve their potential.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín

"This is a landmark project which has been built with the significant funding and assistance from the Executive through the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure," Ms Ní Chuilín said.

"I have watched with interest as work has continued and I am pleased today to be visiting a facility that is hugely impressive, both inside and out, and will be accessible to the whole community."

She added: "Everyone, from elite competitors to the occasional swimmer, will be able to use and enjoy this facility. This pool belongs to all of us."

The leisure complex marks the largest ever investment in such facilities in Northern Ireland.

North Down Borough Council has invested £38m, including £14.4m in funding from the Northern Ireland Executive through the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Features include the Olympic-sized pool, a diving pool, flumes and slides, a sidewinder ride, four grass football pitches, a gym, an eight-court sports hall, and a café and crèche.

"There has been a huge team of people working around the clock to get this building to the stage it is at now. They have moved mountains, almost literally, to get us to where we are today," Alderman Anne Wilson, chair of North Down Borough Council's Leisure and Community Services Committee, said.

"The building has had rather a long gestation period, but the wait has clearly been worthwhile."

The leisure centre opens to the public on Saturday 23 March.

© UTV

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