Date: 22 Jun 2023
Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Áine Groogan welcomed US Envoy to Northern Ireland Joe Kennedy III to officially open the St Comgall’s community facility in west Belfast today.
Belfast City Council restored the Grade B1-listed building at Divis Street on behalf of Falls Community Council. The project saw the transformation of a former school building into multi-use centre comprising new offices, a café and spaces for events and exhibitions.
Councillor 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.”
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.
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.”
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.”