Mid-Ulster District Council has given its backing for a £3.8million Seamus Heaney Centre planned for Bellaghy.
Plans to turn the former PSNI station in the south Derry village into an interpretive centre were first mooted by Magherafelt District Council back in January.
The Nobel Laureate died just over a year ago and is buried in St Mary’s Church graveyard, Bellaghy.
Commemoration events were held to mark the anniversary of his death.
The council wanted to put in place a permanent exhibition of his artefacts, including books and manuscripts as well as providing a community resource facility for varous groups.
The aim is to create a flagship centre of the arts that will act as a beacon of excellence, providing unique, rewarding and inspirational opportunities for the people of Bellaghy, Mid-Ulster and beyond.
And it is hoped the facility would attract visitors, both local and international into the Mid-Ulster area and boost tourism by creating ‘Heaney Country’ to tie into the proposed development of Tullyhogue Fort outside Cookstown and the Hill of the O’Neill in Dungannon.
Sinn Féin group leader Councillor Ronan McGinley said: “The work of Seamus Heaney is known across the world and it is right that the people of Mid Ulster are proud of his local roots.
“This considerable investment will provide a great tribute to a literature giant, and will also In relation to the benefits of the project, this will have a dramatic positive impact on the cultural identity of Mid Ulster, it will attract huge numbers of visitors and will create local employment.
“ Sinn Féin welcomes the council decision to progress this project and look forward to the benefits it will bring.”
See this week’s Mid-Ulster Mail for full story