Challenge over library campaign

ULSTER Unionist Councillors in Banbridge have given their backing to a campaign to save Gilford Library - and accused Craigavon DUP Councillors of not doing enough to save the facility.

The Ulster Unionist Knockiveagh councillors have urged the public to support Gilford Library which is under threat of closure due to a proposal from the Northern Ireland Libraries Authority.

Councillors Glenn Barr, John Hanna and Liz Ingram said: “Gilford Library is a facility which is central to the future development of Gilford and is crucial to the enhancement and growth of the village – it must be retained. A decision will be made as to the future of Gilford Library by the Sinn Fein DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín in the coming weeks.

“The impact of the closure of this facility would have far-reaching and devastating consequences for the people of Gilford and the surrounding areas. The library is used by young and old alike on a daily basis for social, educational and research purposes. Its central location means it is within easy walking distance for many residents.

“According to Government Research, Gilford suffers from a higher degree of social deprivation than all of its neighbours. Therefore the proposal to close Gilford Library would be a significant blow to the future development of the village and is a nonsensical idea.”

Councillor Barr urged Craigavon DUP Councillor Carla Lockhart to use her position as a member of the Board of the Northern Ireland Libraries Authority to bring pressure to bear in order to save the library: “Councillor Lockhart’s DUP MLA colleagues Sydney Anderson and Stephen Moutray have issued press releases regarding the future of the Library. If they feel so strongly, we are left to question why they have failed to utilise Cllr Lockhart’s position on the Board to help save the facility for the people of Gilford?

“The people of Gilford came out in force at a public meeting held in the British Legion in March to show their support for the retention of the Library, with the period of public consultation ending in April,” said Cllr Barr, “Then Assembly candidate and now MLA Jo-Anne Dobson attended this meeting, has been active in support of the Library and has written to the Sinn Fein Minister Carál Ní Chuilín in support of the Library.”

The UUP Councillors concluded: “Not only does the Library provide reading facilities but it also offers other services which include free internet access. At a time when many town centres are suffering, Gilford certainly falls into the category of those that are most deserving and we urge the Minister to intervene to save the facility for the people of Gilford.”