Mourne’s Sinn Fein Councillor Willie Clarke has welcomed the decision by Newry Mourne and Down District Council’s Active Healthy Communities committee decision on Monday night to allow the YMCA Greenhill to lease the Rock Pool an evening per week in July and August.
Cllr Clarke said: “I would like to commend YMCA Greenhill for undertaking such an exciting initiative. The six-week trial period is to test the feasibility of developing a long-term partnership, which would see an extension of the Rock Pool season and opening hours. Next year such sustainable initiatives will increase usage and will maximise the benefits of this iconic facility.”
The activities proposed could include canoeing, swimming, and a range of water safety awareness programmes. Greenhill YMCA has a long pedigree in the Newcastle area having been located in Donard Park for a hundred years. They provide activity for around 10,000 young people annually in the Newcastle centre located on the lower slopes of Slieve Donard.
Cllr Clarke added: “Newcastle Greenhill YMCA have recently opened the youth centre in the former Kairos building in Newcastle. This centre focuses on the needs of the youth on the Castlewellan Road area which has a large youth population with no available recreation facilities. The initiative at the Rock Pool will enhance this work and broaden the learning experience for the youth in the centre.”
The Greenhill YMCA would ensure that the facility would be operated in line with the Council’s NOP’s (Normal Operating Procedures) and provide their own qualified lifeguards and insurance cover. Also, the hourly operational costs (non-staff) will be passed to the YMCA for the period of the operation.
After a six-week trial period an assessment will be made to determine the future viability of the partnership between the Council and the YMCA which is involved in a wide range of programmes with young people, many of these from countries around the world.