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Lord Mayor visits St Comgall’s following £7.2 million transformation

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Date: 01 Feb 2023

Marie Maguire and Gerry McConville from Falls Community Council, Belfast Lord Mayor Christina Black and Orla McStravick from the Social Investment Fund in St Comgall's atrium (SIF)

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Christina Black has visited St Comgall’s on Divis Street to see how the former school has been transformed following a major restoration project.

The Grade B1-listed building has been sympathetically restored and repurposed on behalf of Falls Community Council to include new offices, conference and exhibition facilities, event spaces and a café.

Funding for the project included £3.7 million from the Northern Ireland Executive’s Social Investment Fund under its Delivering Social Change Framework and £3.5 million from Belfast City Council. 

Councillor Black said: “St Comgall’s is a landmark building in west Belfast with a fascinating history. Unfortunately, it had fallen into disrepair since St Comgall’s Elementary School closed in the mid-1990s, so to see it brought back into use for the benefit of current and future generations is fantastic.

“Belfast City Council bought into Falls Community Council’s vision for the building at an early stage, recognising the numerous economic, educational, social and cultural benefits that it will bring to the people who live and work in the area. It will also promote good relations between communities through shared facilities and programming. We therefore agreed to invest £3.5 million in the project, and we project managed its redevelopment.  

“The transformation is incredible. Many original features have been retained and there have been some excellent new additions including the stunning new atrium over the former courtyard area. I look forward to visiting the building regularly in the years ahead, and I wish Falls Community Council every success in their new home.”

Orla McStravick, Director of the Social Investment Fund, said: “This project is a great example of central and local government working together with communities to deliver a shared vision and real benefits for local people. The restoration of St Comgall’s will enhance the economic, educational, social and cultural structure of west Belfast by bringing a historic building back into use as a valuable local community hub. It will increase community services, enhance good relations and reduce deprivation within the locale and throughout the wider SIF Belfast West zone.”

Liz Groves, Chair of Falls Community Council, said: “Falls Community Council, with the assistance of Atlantic Philanthropies, purchased St Comgall’s School in February 2002. The building lay derelict for over 20 years and now, with the assistance of the Social Investment Fund and the Belfast Investment Fund, we have completed the restoration and brought the school back to life. 

“St Comgall’s will be an economic, social and cultural driver for the area and its completion has brought great pride to the local community. The building provides top class office accommodation as well as event spaces that will be used by the local community. The newly renovated St Comgall’s is a building that Falls Community Council and the local community are proud of.”

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