Northern Ireland: Committee decisions March 2020

Minutes of the meeting of the Committee for Northern Ireland on 3 March 2020 at 10.00am, East Belfast Network Centre, Belfast


  • Jim Dixon (Chair)
  • Angelina Fusco
  • Jacqueline Irwin  
  • Jim McGreevy
  • Mukesh Sharma
  • Sheila McClelland   

Committee Business

1. Welcomes and apologies

The Chair welcomed all members and extended and extra welcome to Isabel Hunt, the newly appointed Executive Director, Business Innovation and Insight on her first visit to Northern Ireland. Introductions were made by Committee members and staff.

2. Minutes of the meeting held on 26 November 2019 and matters arising   

Minutes were agreed as an accurate record and signed by the Chair.

3. Chairs Report

The Chair updated the Committee on the following areas.

  • The shortlisting for the Committee posts had been done with a number of strong applications submitted. The shortlisting for the Trustee post is also being undertaken.

4. Corporate Update

Isabel Hunt presented the corporate update. Key points noted by the committee were as follows:

  • Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive is still on extended sickness leave. However, she is doing very well.
  • The Heritage Horizons Awards shortlist has been completed. 12 out of 18 projects are being progressed following on from the Expression of Interest phase. One successful project is from NI.
  • Digital Skills for Heritage, formerly the Digital Campaign, is progressing with five different initiative strands. The focus is to improve digital capabilities across the heritage sector.
  • Due to changes with the Government reshuffle there is now a new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

5. Country Report

Director of Country, introduced the report. Key points noted by the Committee were as follows:

  • Thanks, given to key staff members acting as Programme Managers for their work with the Heritage Horizon Awards.
  • Meetings are to take place with local Ministers, now that the Executive is up and running. The Chair would attend the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) meeting.
  • Meetings are also being arranged with the chief executives of local councils.
  • We are also in discussion with the Northern Ireland Office (NIO about the Shared History Fund.
  • Changes in Whitehall underline the importance of National Lottery funds being deployed strategically in ways where impact can be measured.
  • The Committee underlined the importance of showcasing projects to exemplify the successes of our funding.

6. Grant Budget Paper 2019-20

Head of Investment presented the paper. The following points were noted:

  • The budget for Northern Ireland for 2019-20 was confirmed as £5.5m, comprising of £4.2m for Committee decisions and £1.3m for delegated decisions.
  • All new awards would come out of the Committee budget including uplifts.
  • Four delivery round grants under SF4 had been received for decision at the meeting.
  • One  development round application under SFF had been received for decision at the meeting.

7. Declarations of interest

A member declared an interest in the following application which was deemed conflicting and the member would not remain present for the case discussions or subsequent prioritisation:

Item 11 – Aghalee Parish Development Project

  • Sheila McClelland had a conflict with the Aghalee Parish Church application as she is a member of the church vestry.

A member declared an interest in the application listed below which was noted. However, it was not deemed necessary for them to step out of the conversation or refrain from taking votes/decisions.

Item 10 - Our Places, Our Pasts, Our Perspectives

  • Jacqueline Irwin – in her position as CEO of a current funding partner and a current funder of the applicant but had no connection to the project. The Committee were content this did not constitute a conflict and for noting only.

8. SF4 Delivery Round and SFF application Summary Paper

Stella Byrne, Head of Investment presented the paper.

  • The Committee for Northern Ireland has not drawn on the Countries Reserve this financial year. The Committee has access to this budget should they wish to use it.
  • The Summary paper provided context for SF4 Round two project applications to aid discussion and prioritisation.

Items for decision

9. Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands LPS

Grantee: Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust

Project description: Following the development phase the partnership would promote and preserve natural, cultural and defence heritage and develop outdoor recreation opportunities, to ensure better community input to area management.  Achieving UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status is the long-term aspiration.

The Committee awarded first round pass of £2,887,500 including a development grant of £204,200 (79%) in October 2017

The Committee for Northern Ireland awardd a grant of £2,683,300 (79%) 

10. Our Places, Our Pasts, Our Perspectives; HG-18-00217

Grantee: Corrymeela Community

Project description: This 3-year project led by the Corrymeela Community sets out to deepen heritage understanding and practice within contested heritage, and to support reconciliation and sustainable community building.

The Committee awarded a first round pass of £181,000 including a development grant of £21,200 (72%) in December 2018.

The Committee for Northern Ireland awarded a grant of £159,800 (49%)

11. Aghalee Parish Development Project

The Committee member left the room for the discussion.

Applicant: Holy Trinity Church of Ireland Aghalee

Project description: The project would repair damage caused to Holy Trinity Church, Aghalee (a 17th century, B1-listed building) by long term extensive dampness. The project would also explore the heritage of the parish and connections with the River Lagan and the nearby hamlet Soldierstown through a series of activities and events. 

The Committee awarded a first round pass of £188,000 including a development grant of £14,400 (80%) in December 2018.

The Committee for Northern Ireland awarded a grant of £185,400 (68%)

12. Bangor Court House

Applicant: Open House Festival Ltd

Project description: The project would restore and redevelop the redundant Victorian B2 listed Court House building dating from 1866 in Bangor thus saving an important heritage asset and creating a new cultural platform for the town.

The Committee awarded a first round pass of £452,700 including development grant of £28,000 (34%) in March 2018.

The Committee noted:

  • The Uplift being due to the redevelopment of the first-floor space, this had been raised by Committee at Round One. The building was also found to be in worse condition than originally anticipated at Round One. The project could act as a future exemplar for others exploring the use of Community Asset Transfer, this being the first of its kind in NI.

The Committee for Northern Ireland awarded a grant of 854,900 (53%)

13. Prioritisation and feedback for Delivery round item

The Committee discussed the projects and considerations as above.

SFF Single Stage Applications (£100k-£250k)                                                       

14. Single Stage Round Grants Overview

Stella Byrne presented the overview paper for Single Stage applications and provided the context to aid discussion and prioritisation.

Treasure Ireland

Grantee: National Churches Trust

Request: £248,200 (65%)

Project: Treasure Ireland aims to support the maintenance and sustainability of historic places of worship in Northern Ireland (NI). Its core will be a Community Grants programme awarding grants of between £500 and £10,000 addressing proactive repairs and maintenance, preventing prevent fabric deterioration that can lead to larger problems.

The Committee awarded a grant of £248,200 (65%)

Raise the Roof - The Restoration and Renovation of Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Bessbrook

Grantee: St Patrick’s Archdiocesan Trust Limited

Request: £240,400 (44%)

Project: To repair the Grade B listed church of Ss Peter and Paul in the village of Bessbrook. The project will bring the building into better condition alongside a programme of heritage activities.

The Committee awarded a grant of £240,400 (44%)

Friel Imagined

Grantee: The Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation

Request: £234,600 (92%)

Project: A 2.5 year literary heritage project (April 2020 – September 2022) to digitise, catalogue, publish online and present to a wider audience five plays from the Brian Friel Archive.

After discussion and consideration, the Committee recommended the request on the basis of pre-agreed conditions being attached.

The Committee awarded a grant of £248,200 (65%)

Building capacity to deliver Nature Recovery Networks

Grantee: Ulster Wildlife Trust 

Request: £145,300 (100%)

Project: Ulster Wildlife will lead a partnership of the four largest natural heritage organisations in NI to develop the ecological network maps needed as the first step in a Nature Recovery Network approach to address the decline in biodiversity.

The Committee awarded a grant of £145,300 (100%)

Foyle Valley Transport and Railway Museum

Grantee: Destined Ltd

Request: £242,100 (100%)

Project: The project will open an interpretive centre illustrating Derry’s historic railways which will be operated as a visitor attraction by people with learning difficulties.

The Committee awarded a grant of £242,100 (100%)

Portview Heritage Project: Spinning Memories and Sustaining Communities    

Grantee:Northern Ireland Trade Union and Educational  & Social Centre Limited

Request: £221,200 (98%)

Project: The project will create a masterplan for the historic mill complex at Portview Trade Centre with a view to conserving and improving the current Portview buildings, increasing accessibility and connecting people to the rich heritage of its past whilst being fit for purpose for a modern day audience.

The Committee awarded a grant of £221,200 (98%)

SFF Development round application

15. Divis and Black Mountain – A View to the Future

Applicant: The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty

Request: Development grant of £360,300 (85%) and potential Delivery grant of £2,481,100 (85%)

Project description: The project would open access and co-create spaces for both the community and the environment at Divis and Black Mountain by providing infrastructure, habitat management, activities and community collaboration.

The Committee for Northern Ireland awarded a Development grant of £360,300 (85% of potential development costs) and potential Delivery grant of £2,481,100 (85%)

Papers for Information

16. Communications Paper

The Committee noted the report.

17. Any other business

No other business.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 9 June 2020.