All posts by Grainne McKinney

Andersonstown Leisure Centre to close on 29 May for council revamp

The centre was first developed in 1979.

Andersonstown Leisure Centre is to close its doors on May 29 so that refurbishment works can begin.

The centre was first established in 1979

Plans for the new centre were revealed in March as part of Belfast City Council’s £105m Leisure Transformation Programme . The programme aims to promote the Andersonstown facilities as the centre for water-based family fun.

The new centre is due to open in the summer 2019 with users advised to use other council leisure facilities in the meantime.

£25million was invested into the project, which will provide a family fun water centre and dry leisure facilities.

The ‘water’ plans include three slides: Masterblaster, Flatline Loop and body slide

However staff at the Leisure Centre have said they are angry at the lack of information they have received regarding the future of their jobs when the centre closes.

Deborah Boyle has worked as a receptionist in the centre from when it was first built in 1979.

She claims that staff have been given an “unfair choice” and that some still do not know if they will be given employment in other council leisure centres. Mrs Boyle says:

“They’ve offered us a redundancy package which is pathetic. It’s pittance.

I’ve worked here for nearly 40 years, loads of us have been here since the beginning.

It’s an unfair choice, either take the redundancy or wait around and hope there’s room for you somewhere else.”

The renovation follows the opening of the state-of-the-art Olympia Leisure Centre located on Boucher Road, Belfast.

Now simply named ‘The Olympia’ the centre is managed by the GLL ‘Better’ brand which has worked in partnership with Belfast city council to operate leisure centres since 2015.

The proposed plans for exterior of the centre

“Just not good enough”

People Before Profit Councillor Matthew Collins says that both staff and the community haven’t been given sufficient opportunity to voice their concerns. Mr Collins claims:

“I’ve spoken to the community and staff members who are not happy with the development plans.

Consultation was minimal from the start and it is just not good enough that some staff have been left confused when the closure is so soon.”

Swimming instructor Brendan Mulholland has been running swimming lessons for children for over 20 years in Andersonstown.

Brendan will be taking lessons in Whiterock until the building is finished and understands the need for renovation, but disagrees with the design plans of the new centre. He says:

“I’m trying to teach young people how to swim competitively and they’re making this place into a kiddies fun centre.

The council don’t care they just want to get as many people as possible through the doors”

  • The agreed facilities are:
  • large family fun focused area of leisure water
  • 25m six lane pool with 50 spectator seats
  • Learner Pool
  • Confidence water for small children and toddlers
  • 140 station fitness suite
  • Exercise studios
  • Spin studio
  • Cafe
  • Multipurpose room
  • Range of outdoor provision such as five-a-side pitches

“It definitely needs modernised.”

Regular gym user Clare Bannon says that new facilities are needed. Clare says:

“The rooms aren’t very well ventilated and the spin studio and gym can get so warm that you’re sweating before you’ve started working out! It definitely needs modernised.”

Ventilation, changing rooms and dry areas are to be improved upon under the new plans.

Ground Floor plans for the refurbished centre

A Belfast City Council spokesman has stated:

“Having developed initial designs for the new facility, we carried out a community consultation in September 2016.

Based on the feedback from this consultation the designs for the new centre were further refined.

We carried out a further period of consultation and recognise the importance of engaging staff to ensure they are aware of plans going forward.”

The new Andersonstown Leisure Centre is due to open in summer 2019.

Review: ‘Get Out’

“Black is back!”

Meeting a partners parents for the first time is usually a somewhat uncomfortable experience, and in “Get Out” the situation is no different.

Awkward dad jokes, an overtly competitive sibling and a mother who specialises in hypnosis. Yes, it’s your traditional ‘meet the parents’ set-up.

DANIEL KALUUYA as Chris Washington

The directorial debut from Jordan Peele (MADtv, Key & Peele) presents the audience with a film balancing precisely on the line between psychological thriller and dark comedy.

At several points in this film you will experience the urge to laugh, although whether your giggle is the result of humour or horror you are never quite sure.

When African-American photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is invited by his Caucasian girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her family, race is an issue from the beginning.

The insistence that her father would have voted for Obama “a third time” is later reinforced by the man himself, as Bradley Whitford embodies the role of friendly/desperate Mr Armitage with a conviction that is winningly cringe worthy.

Mrs Armitage’s (Catherine Keeper) contemplative assessment of Chris is no more comforting, particularly when we see her command of the two (black) servants using little more than the clink of a spoon on her teacup.

Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keeper as the creepy Mr and Mrs Armitage

It soon becomes clear that the warning “Don’t go to a white girl’s parents’ house!”  delivered by Chris’ best friend, and provider of comic relief, Rod (LilRel Howry) is more ominous than first thought.

Bleak comedy soon gives way to spine-chilling mystery as Chris is paraded as the star attraction of a garden party where wealthy, white people prod his muscles and patronisingly insist “Black is back!” with an intensity which transcends mere curiosity.

The casting of Daniel Kaluuya may have been controversial when revealed, but it is the Brits former non-entity in Hollywood combined with Peele’s chaotically choreographed writing which makes this film stand out.

The casting of a more prominent actor would surely not have cemented us so securely in a film where the progression of the sinister is so rapid.

The unpredictability of the script, the haunting, string-filled soundtrack and a cinematography where symbolism is subtly emphasised all combine to create a thriller where the audience cannot guess what is going to happen next. It is satisfying for those sick of the predictability of thriller films, yet to label it as “crowd-pleasing” could not be further from the truth.

“Get Out” is a triumph of cinema, a socially relevant but unique concept which reveals more messages with every viewing.

The audience teeters uneasily between the realms of farce and fear as we are presented with a world which is assuredly unrealistic, yet at the same time disconcertingly familiar.

‘Go Girl” exhibition at QSS Gallery on International Women’s Day

The ‘Go Girl’ exhibition at the QSS Gallery in Belfast was launched on the 8 March, to coincide with International Women’s Day 2017.

‘Go Girl’ is a collective of female artists, musicians and photographers from across Belfast who work together to raise awareness for works by women within the creative industries.

‘Trauma and Triumph’ exhibition

Catherine McLoughlin was the curator of the ‘Trauma and Triumph’ exhibition and a founding member of ‘Go Girl’.

23-year-old Ms McLoughlin, a Fine Arts graduate of Newcastle University, said the exhibition aimed to:

“Give a feminine perspective on how being a woman in Northern Ireland affects the way you live and grow up”.

The works displayed were all original creations and a total of £300 was raised which will go towards the hire of gallery space and promotion of events established by ‘Go Girl’.

The Go Girl exhibition conincided with Intl Women’s Day