A local Councillor has slammed the Department of Communities following a delay to the planned upgrade of Enniskillen Library.
Back in July 2021, plans were lodged to demolish the existing building on Halls Lane and replace it with a brand-new £470,000 library due for completion in December 2023.
So far, only fencing and scaffolding around the current building have been erected but nothing much else done to it with sources close to the Department saying that progress on the revamp has stalled due to budgetary cuts.
Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh stated that this delay was unacceptable and that a campaign was needed to hold Stormont’s politicians to account and get the library upgrade back on track.
He said: “I find this very concerning. As has been confirmed by the Department, there appears to be no certainty over the funding regarding the upgrading of Enniskillen Library.
“It is simply unacceptable – the library provides a wide range of services and has been of particular importance over the lockdown period.
“The library also services a highly deprived catchment in the adjoining Devenish ward. It is totally unacceptable that now there are financial pressures in Enniskillen, to see the commitment for an upgraded library disappear.
“It’s been a particularly long period of time that all this fencing and scaffolding has been up. There’s been incidents there involving anti-social behaviour.
“I think what we will have to do now is to see whether we can build a campaign to put the feet of the politicians to the fire and ensure that the commitment and promises of the past will be delivered.”
Cllr O’Cofaigh insisted that the upgrade was vital for those in the community who cannot access the Internet at home.
He added: “The library has been promised this new upgrade as a fresh beginning to encourage people back in to use the library facilities.
“Those facilities are very important when you think about it. From helping people to make job applications and benefits applications because not everyone has access to a home computer.
“Many people are struggling to pay for their broadband so we need to see investment to expand the facilities of Enniskillen Library.
“But if the upgrade is suddenly up in the air, it’s going to leave many people in our community concerned as a result of this.”
Replying to the Fermanagh Herald when asked about the delay to the library’s upgrade, a Department for Communities spokesperson said: “While Libraries NI, supported by the Department, have been able to develop the project to pre-tender stage, the current economic climate continues to present challenges in securing the remainder of the project funding.
“The Enniskillen Library project remains a priority and Libraries NI and the Department continue to work to resolve these issues.”
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