Welcome to the website of the Ad Hoc Saving Necarne group. We are a group of concerned members of the Fermanagh Omagh community with interest in community health and wellbeing. We come from a growing range of different interests, so far including;  equine, equine therapy, youth, mental health and wellbeing, disability,  autism and special needs,  walkers, runners, cyclists, fitness, historic, senior citizens,  and community who all share concerns about community needs not being protected and assured in the Councils moves to lease Necarne. We feel the £5 million plus of public funds spent on Necarne should benefit our community and its health and wellbeing needs rather than profit any private investor  / shareholders. We as rate payers have already bought and paid for Necarne. Our Council as also sold off an important part of the estate to a housing developer and profited by over £2 million from that sale. However our council has spent very little on the estate so in effect, has exploited community heritage and assets for financial gain whilst entirely neglecting the repair of the estate and the castle now listed as in a state of “critical risk”.

We want the council to stop, listen,  assess and work with community and currently ignored local needs and realities (such as the highest rates of disabled children / learning disabilities  etc). We want the Council to engage in a process of inclusive community conversation with all stake holders to create a more sustainable, appropriate, and responsible future for Necarne facilities and castle in the form of a community trust.

This campaign started simply with a concern about the Council refusing access to Necarne which was requested on behalf of a significant number of children  in the region striving to learn to ride horses, often exposed to freezing cold, wet and windy conditions (making riding horses more dangerous) in outdoor arenas when nearby Necarne, which had £5 million of public funds spent on it, remained locked up and kept closed to those needs.

Then we found out about the Riding for Disabled group, currently at Cafre but because they are the only  main NI club not based in a riding school they were very reliant on a volunteer bringing ponies and very limited in what they could provide for our most in need children. Omagh RDA are flat out meeting needs – seven days a week from morning to night, whilst in Fermanagh, only a couple of hours once a week can be provided. We need Necarne open and working so we can provide the full access other areas can provide – because Fermanagh has highest rate of children with disabilities in Western Trust Area. and highest rate of Learning Disabled in NI  – a group also badly hit by millions being taken from their budget by Health trust – now set to be disadvantaged again.

Then we looked at the council tender and scoring system and answers to questions in the tender process and basically there was no assurance anyone would have any right to continue to use this and equestrianism could be abandoned completely. There was no score for providing for any community needs and ZERO score for the solid EVIDENCE OF SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES from equine therapy for many hard to reach needs in our community.  Which includes NI’s highest in world rate of PTSD, nor for drug or alcohol dependancy, suicidal ideation, self harm, young people at risk of harm, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders, alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autism, sensory disorders, domestic violence, addictions, eating disorders, communication difficulties, bereavement, providing physical wellbeing and social skills, cerebral palsy, cerebral vascular accident (a stroke) development delay, down’s syndrome, learning or language disabilities, multiple sclerosis, personal injury (e.g. damage to the body/mind after an accident)

These are real needs often hidden, and become invisible in our community – its easy to abandon these needs because they are too often invisible and silent because of vulnerability, so we have a duty to remember they exist and how hard it is for families caring for those needs. We must make sure they are taken into account when decisions are made about public funded, council owned facilities that could hugely improve their quality of life, physical and emotional wellbeing. Necarne is a magical magnificent place and no one better deserves to get it’s full benefit more than those suffering the list of disabilities and health issues above. It would be so easy to build all the other equine, other activity and community needs around this – as well as tourists, so highly prized and scored by our Council. However we feel that we should look after those in our community who most need the use of Necarne first over and above any aspiration for seasonal tourists.

Very soon after we realised about the young people’s needs, and the disability and health needs, came other groups, not just all the horse riders in the county having to travel to Cavan, Monaghan, Fintona and further for events and Dublin and Belfast for training – all of which used to be at Necarne. Fermanagh seems the only county without an equestrian facility people can use – elsewhere they thrive but requests to open and use ours were being refused by our council more than once.  Within days of the Facebook page going live, on the 15th of  September 2016, it emerged cyclists, runners and fitness groups who all use and need Necarne. Within a week, the Facebook page had over 1000 likes, word was spreading, people were finding out what was going on and coming forward to offer help.

Then, at our first group meeting, came forward some wonderful ladies who use Necarne walking- very important for their wellbeing. Of all those who came forward to defend their needs they are the most formidable! The cyclists talked of potential for a centre of excellence for al their different groups from Sprocket Rocket to BMX, MTB, Cycle Cross Leisure and competition events. A little listening and facilitating saw wonderful community energy and ideas emerge. There were many frustrated groups who were refused access to Necarne by the Council / DARD – cyclist’s cycle cross, Lady of the Lake festival which attracts 45-50,000 visitors, scout groups, even an age concern group who wanted to hold their annual picnic there, all refused,  the list went on and on – however they were alone, refused on their own not knowing they shared the same fate as so many other community needs – until now.

As we are in a rush to get this site up and running to communicate with a rapidly growing interest, below we have put posts from our Facebook page to help bring everyone up to speed.

People should know, for what its worth, about what is happening re Necarne at the moment. Things are going badly wrong. This friday is the closing date for tenders for one of Ireland’s top equestrian centres. £4 million of tax payers money was spent developing this in 1993, then it went to Cafre who abandoned it, the council tried to sell it, now it’s up for lease. The Castle is Situated on 228.43 acres (92.44 hectares) (approx. 150 acres of grassland, 30 acres of mature woodland, 48.43 acres other lands and buildings, etc has 80 cut stone stables, around an inner and outer courtyard, cg Single storey ‘Gate Lodge’ and a traditional two storey. The  Residential accommodation– 16 double/twin ensuite rooms, with lounge, kitchen and bar, Indoor arena with viewing gallery (300 seats) and catering facilities. Outdoor and walled gardens and arenas.
Cross country, steeple chase and point to point courses and many other aspects and facilities…..
There has been no open process where the council listened to community needs for this facility or facilitated groups coming together, such as hosting a meeting for interested parties, to hear about needs for the facility in the community. Yesterday they declared in an answer to a question in tender process, that they had no objection to equestrian pursuits being abandoned at this top equestrian facility. Meanwhile many children and young people in the county ride in pouring rain and freezing cold while this fantastic facility paid for by tax payers lies empty. Trees and ivy destroy the magnificent castle – listed as in critical need of repair – but council do nothing. Fermanagh is a county with huge needs for equine therapy and the only RDA in NI not located in a riding centre – severely limiting what the can offer. They are unable to meet all needs and requests by doctors, physios, OTs and special needs school, for children with special needs, including cerebral palsy, autism and other disability who could benefit so much. There is solid evidence of physical and psychological benefits to equine therapy – young people at risk, those with depression, anxiety, bereavement, and many other issues could benefit – but Fermanagh Omagh Coucnil does not seem to understand or want to know about these issues in this community – and never asked about local needs. Its the same as if they closed any sports centre without considering needs or potential users. No wonder the local health trust got away with stripping £8 MILLION A YEAR, for many years, from the budget for those with learning disabilities, and Fermanagh has one of the highest rates in NI. and the highest rate of children with disabilities in western areas. BUT the council wrote the criteria for the tender with high scores for economic benefit and job creation – without any significant score for health and wellbeing and social need or meeting needs of our most vulnerable, never mind allowing our young people to get involved in equestrian sport into the fantastic facilities paid for by tax payers money. You can view the tender docs online at https://www.fermanaghomagh.com/tenders/ and you can find a list of the councillors responsible for this mess here http://www.fermanaghomagh.com/your-council/councillors/ When asked about the situation their civil servant replied it was an open process that the community could apply – but it requires a business plan and a lot of additional requirements that are not realistic for any small group of carers, clubs, people in need to meet or those that provide for them, youth groups etc – especially when the council did not facilitate for them to come together or conduct any assessment of local need for use of an equestrian facility. How did they justify spending £4 million on an equestrian facility in 1993 – they must have known needs at some stage. Things are going badly wrong here in Fermanagh Omagh Council area and I would urge everyone to write, email, phone and lobby district councillors to ensure that the people who need this equestrian facility are not sidelined. Especially voters in the Fermanagh / Omagh area. This could be a fantastic venue to bring together equine events and training, equine therapy, and a trust to protect historic buildings and grounds and host events and fairs etc. But local needs should be first priority and protected in councils plans – but yet again our most invisible, most in need are abandoned once again. The closing date for tenders is Friday but it’s over the coming weeks when the council will consider and our elected representatives have the final say. It’s a non binding process – so they have the options on it. We need to make sure they do the right thing here. It’s the old saying ” the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing” The future of this equestrian facility should not just be all about money. Come on good people in the equestrian world who do understand these needs and matters – you are needed now. Please act now. If anyone is up for organising a protest ride on behalf of those in need, to council offices in Enniskillen or Omagh or both – please feel free to organise and let others and disability groups RDA etc know about it – please share, tag etc this post.

16th Sept post

Updated notes and questions!
Note; In addition to below- When we spoke to councillors about this issue at least one said … “people should have come and told the council of these needs before now.” we now know of at least five applications by local people to run projects at Necarne to meet equestrian and local needs – they got no where with the council -even full business cases from people with degrees in equine management to run a top equestrian facility, even someone representing lots of local children getting cold and wet, and those who wanted to work with others and provide equine therapy, even a local community group, tried to get things going – got no where -they have given up trying. Together they could have made a brilliant project. The council, or at least civil servants, knew of local needs and people who wanted to get involved in running it. They may not have been able to produce all for a tender process such as the council have presented now, but together they would have created a genuine community led initiative that could have developed into a sustainable, healthy vibrant project rooted in genuine local needs and grown in years to come.
If the council were able to justify spending £4 million on equestrian needs in 1993 they must have had evidence of that need then and recognised it. Can that business plan be found? what did it say then about needs to justify expenditure? Those needs have not gone away – but they have increased, especially since DARD vacated Necarne to lesser facilities at the agricultural college, and rates of those with disabilities who need equine therapy have also increased….It would be good to see the business case that they used to justify building the equestrian facility. It would be just as relevant today as it was then.

Why are the council ignoring local needs? In response to questions about local needs for this council facility – they say “it is an open process that allows community to also tender” – but no one who really needs to use that facility would be able to produce all that the tender process is asking for, and the scoring is not about local needs or social needs, or disability needs, or public recreation needs or health and wellbeing needs, – it’s about number of jobs created etc. So the process is in its self discriminatory against vulnerable people who need to use Necarne, such as Riding for Disabled and young people riding the the cold and wet etc. In the tender process those who down loaded the documents, get the answers to all the questions asked, and to question 15 yesterday, said the council did not care if equestrian aspect, of one of Irelands top facilities were abandoned – so it could all be lost from those who need it most – the community who paid for it, because the council is not listening and did not investigate local needs before setting it up to go to the highest bidder…. Imagine if they did this with the Lakeland forum or the Bawnacre – could any of their users who need it, tender for it? Not likely.
The quoted vision for local government as agreed by the NI Executive: “… a strong, dynamic local government creating communities that are vibrant, healthy, prosperous, safe, sustainable and have the needs of all citizens at their core…”
That cannot have been applied in this case.

16th Sept  Emerging Key Points so Far

Fermanagh Omagh Council
You can’t spend £5 million of our money on an Equestrian Centre we need and not ensure it stays an Equestrian Centre.
Stop ignoring all the local needs. Stop ignoring realities of disability and mental health statistics. Stop the lock out of those who need it most. Open Necarne for the people who need it.
Abandon the tender process that discriminates against local needs and allows equestrian use to be abandoned.
Scrap the tender and scoring system that is impossible for local needs to meet.
Make local needs and equestrian use top priority.
Protect rare heritage for generations to come. Save Necarne castle from falling into ruins. Take it of the ‘Critical Need’ list. Repair it without delay.
Open a process to listen to and understand local needs and huge potential.
Abandon the process that abandons people at risk and heritage at risk..
Put community, wellbeing, social, disability, youth needs and preserving important rare heritage first not last.

Friday September 16th Closing date for Tender Process 

So today at 12 Noon the tender process for Necarne closed.
The tenders will now be opened and scored according to the criteria and aims the council set for this facility.
The score for access for the most vulnerable members of our community, those with disabilities, mental or physical health issues, who could benefit hugely from equine therapy and full RDA facility, for meeting the currently impossible to meet needs and requests of doctors, physios, psychologists, and OTs, for equine therapy – the score ZERO.
The score for accommodating many the young (and older) riders in the county, many of whom have special needs or autism) out all autumn, winter, spring (and sometimes summer) in rainy, cold and wet conditions adding extra risk as it makes horses more spooky and sharp – the score ZERO.
The score for accommodating all the horse riders in the community who have to travel outside the county to events, leagues, training and lessons- to access an indoor arena in cold, wet and rain -the score ZERO.
The score for all those who could and would attend a fabulous indoor arena and beautiful facilities at Necarne and get involved in equine therapy, horse riding, carriage riding, driving, cross country, eventing, horse boarding, events, dressage competitors, show jumping competitors, point to point, cross country competitions- the score ZERO
The score for considering the EVIDENCE OF REALITY and meeting the needs for quality of life and wellbeing needs in our community, of which 21% of people in Fermanagh have a long term disability / health issue. The highest rate of people with learning disabilities, the highest rate of children in western area with disabilities, (probably) the worst autism services, and the needs of the carers of and the learning disabled who were effectively mugged by trust who took 5 million from their budget every year – the score ZERO
The score for providing a centre of healing and wellbeing via equine therapy because there is solid EVIDENCE OF SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES for needs in our community.This includes NI’s highest in world rate of PTSD, drug or alcohol dependancy, suicidal ideation, self harm, young people at risk of harm, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders, alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autism, sensory disorders, domestic violence, addictions, eating disorders, communication difficulties, bereavement, providing physical wellbeing and social skills, cerebral palsy, cerebral vascular accident (a stroke) development delay, down’s syndrome, learning or language disabilities, multiple sclerosis, personal injury (e.g. damage to the body/mind after an accident) – the score ZERO
The score for providing the PROVEN benefits from equestrian pursuits or equine therapy to our community including health, physical fitness, emotional well being, confidence, communication skills, enjoyment, relating to others, physical change, horsemanship challenge and education, self-efficacy, confidence, self concept, communication, trust, perspective, anxiety reduction, decreased isolation, self acceptance, impulse modulation, social skills, boundaries, spiritual growth, creative freedom, and benefits of opportunity to also ride outdoors in beautiful mature estate, and walled garden, improves all riders psychological wellbeing. score for this – ZERO
The score for providing Special Olympics training for disabled riders and all that would mean to them – score ZERO
The score for allowing the British Horse Society’s world recognised training and examinations, and top coach summer camps to return to Necarne. Currently exams and top training at Belfast or Dublin – ZERO
The score for SAVING or restoring the rare and magnificent heritage of the castle itself, allowed by Council (owners with responsibility) to disintegrate and listed as in CRITICAL NEED of repair by Ulster Architectural Heritage Society – score ZERO.
The score for providing employment in local facilities, to all those trained in the nearby NI Equestrian college – ZERO
The score for ensuring all those from the area who currently gain physical health and mental wellbeing from walking in Necarne, can continue to do so – ZERO.
The score for ensuring that, following a £4 million investment of tax payers money to meet needs for equestrian pursuits by building one of Irelands top equestrian facilities, the estate and all the purpose built stables and arenas remain as equestrian facilities – ZERO.
The score for recognising that given the high rate of sectarian divide in many sports, that equestrian sports provides a neutral environment for coming together, building links and trust and healing in our community and that is much needed in our community where schools etc continue to be so divided- ZERO
The score for meeting the council’s Disability Action Plan aim to “Provide opportunities for children and young people with disabilities to enjoy sporting activities”. – ZERO
The score for meeting Section 75 equality requirements in councils decision making process especially in regard to those with disabilities – ZERO
The score for meeting the aims of the Councils Community Plan from the Community Planning Partnership – “People and Communities: To improve the wellbeing of all our citizens and develop thriving rural and urban communities.
Economy, Infrastructure and Skills: To create better employment opportunities for all by supporting the development and growth of a more productive local economy and better connected area.
Environment: To promote positive action on climate change, sustainable management and enhancement of the built, cultural and natural environment”
– ZERO – (as it abandons the people and communities and built and natural environment)

Score for protecting most needs of most vulnerable and ensuring fair and regulated community access to council owned essential facility, rather than leave all at the mercy of private landlord – ZERO
The score for consideration of health wellbeing, compassion, humanity and listening to community and those in need before making decisions, and creating a process to ensure community needs are met- ZERO

(Note it is in question responses that the council says its ok to abandon all equestrian use of Necarne)
Robustness of Business Case and proposals (15%)
A robust business case will be assessed on detail on proposals, programme for implementation,
investment, source of funding, expertise and experience available, financial assurance, etc.
Score Indicators
Business case provides excellent level of detail on proposals, proof of excellent expertise in the chosen field and of running their own business and a robust and assured financial package to support the proposals.
Business case provides a good level of detail on proposals, proof of expertise in the chosen field and of running their own business and a robust and assured financial package to support the proposals.
Business case provides a fair level of detail on proposals, proof of expertise in the chosen field and of managing a previous business and a robust and assured financial package to support the proposals.
Some detail on proposals and evidence of funding provided.
Some detail on proposals or evidence of funding provided.
Nil response/ Very Poor
No detail on proposals and/or no evidence of funding provided.
Responses will be assessed out of 5 using the above score indicators, the score achieved will then multiplied by a weighting factor of 3 to give total score out of 15%

Proposed use of existing facilities (20%)
Maximum use of facilities (taken from Business Case)
Assessment Score Indicators
Excellent 5
All parts of the property are to be put into use, within five years of agreement.
All parts of the property are to be put into use, within ten years of agreement.
The buildings on the property are to be put into use, while the land is set aside for grazing only.
Some of the buildings and land on the property are to be put into use.
Land taken for grazing only or buildings for storage only.
Nil response/ Very Poor
Commitment not given in relation to use of property
Responses will be assessed out of 5 using the above score indicators, the score achieved will then multiplied by a weighting factor of 4 to give total score out of 20%

Proposed services delivered (20%)
Potential for attracting visitors (taken from business case)
Assessment Score Indicators
Proposals include the provision of visitor attractions and creating full time equivalent employment potential for no less than twenty people.
Proposals include visitor/tourist focussed services and provide good full time equivalent employment potential for no less than ten employees.
Proposals are generally entertainment and/or training related activities requiring visitor/tourist involvement and some employment.
Proposed services require some user visits but are not tourist focussed and limited employment potential.
Proposal involves using the property as an administration or business centre, providing minimum employment potential, with little or no visitor appeal.
Nil response/ Very Poor
Proposal involves using the property as an administration centre, or the like, for a private business with no visitor appeal.
Responses will be assessed out of 5 using the above score indicators, the score achieved will then multiplied by a weighting factor of 4 to give total score out of 20%

Compatibility with Council aims (10%)
1. To develop maximum use of the facilities through the effective management and marketing of the Estate, thereby protecting an existing quality place developed by a legacy Council.
2. To attract a wide range of visitors to Irvinestown in particular and the Fermanagh and Omagh District area in general.
3. To provide a high standard quality service to satisfy the needs and requirements of users.
4. To maintain the Estate and associated facilities to a high standard.
5. To ensure the facility is adequately resourced in terms of experienced management structure, financial plan and associated funding.
6. To resource the facility with a staff structure which has the necessary skills and experience to deliver on any proposed venture.
7. To assist in the development and organisation of a number of events and promote the Centre as an events base for the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area.
8. To preserve the heritage and character of the Estate.
9. To provide employment and/or training opportunities for the local economy.
10. To assist the Council in meeting it’s corporate objectives
11. To ensure a programme of planned on-going maintenance of the property and associated plant and equipment is undertaken, recording periodic servicing and certification as necessary.
Commitment to providing a high standard of service, linked to the aims of the Council for the future of
the facilities (taken from Business Case)
Assessment Score Indicators
The submission provided is of excellent relevance to the Council’s aims. No omissions and / or weaknesses identified
The submission provided is of good relevance to the Council’s aims. Only minor omissions and / or weaknesses identified

3 The submission provided is of satisfactory relevance to the Council’s aims. Some omissions / and or weaknesses identified
The submission provided is of limited relevance to the Council’s aims Several material omissions / and or weaknesses have been identified
The submission provided is of poor relevance to the Council’s aims Major omissions / and or weaknesses have been identified
Nil response/ Very Poor
No response or unacceptable information provided to assess.
Responses will be assessed out of 5 using the above score indicators, the score achieved will then multiplied by a weighting factor of 2 to give total score out of 10%

Deposit (5%)
Proposed deposit on acceptance of submission (taken from the Expression of Interest Form)
The maximum mark will be awarded to the bidder prepared to submit the highest deposit at time of acceptance. Other bidders will then be awarded a pro rata percentage using the following formula:
Available marks (5%) x bidders deposit Largest deposit
Proposed bond (5%)
This is a surety bond underwritten by an insurance company or a bank to guarantee satisfactory conclusion of the lease. The property and related assets at Necarne Estate are very valuable to the people of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and therefore to ensure they continue to be of value in the event of the proposal failing to meet expectations, it will be necessary for any would be lessee to take out a bond in favour of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
The maximum mark will be awarded to the bidder submitting the highest bond. Other bidders will then be awarded a pro rata percentage using the following formula:
Available marks (%) x bidders bond Highest bond
All scores achieved will be totalled to give a total score out of 100%.
The bidder with the highest overall score will be the first to be invited to negotiate a lease agreement based on the submission details.

Boost post

Sept 16th BBC News covered the story

“It would be fantastic if it would provide employment, perhaps if it could provide tourism, education, perhaps an ecomomic driver, it could be a company headquarters!” so says Robert Gibson Director of Community Health and Leisure! Fermanagh Omagh District Council. (Civil Servant)

Thankfully we live in a democracy and have elected representatives who are supposed to represent us and work for our Community, Health and Leisure needs. The tender process is non binding so they do not have to make it a company headquarters when there is so much need in the community. But it is up to us to commuicate local needs to the council and show how it could work – because it did work, it was funded by £4 millon of tax payers money because it can work – the council sound too ‘neo-liberal’ too close to business, and all about the money, forgettting about health, well being and genuine community needs. There is no other facility like this in the Fermanagh or Omagh. Even the park run got put out of Castle Coole. We can’t let this facility slip away to private coporate greed, or a company headquarters. Wrong on so many levels. Elected representatives – your councillors will make the decision to lease or provide for needs – make sure its the right one.

Sept 17th

Sharing some words of wisdom coming in via emails today
“Public investment already made at Necarne must not be gifted to a commercial operator; any gifting must go to the Community. This must be asserted strenuously”

Sept 18th – Text along with Photographs of Necarne as it is now – very distressing to so many who have  wonderful memories there and care deeply about the beautiful castle to see it on the verge of collapse.

Its up to YOU to phone your District Councillors and tell them they should abandon the “non binding” Expression of Interest process because its criteria abandoned the people in our community who need this facility. It abandoned so many of the council’s own stated aspirations for quality of life for community, and it abandons the needs of the castle for urgent repair. Instead our elected representatives led by civil servants appear set to effectively hand over the four million plus of public funds invested in Necarne to assist some private business make profit from themselves and even set them up to apply for more public money to support their business! It’s up to you to fight this and make sure all that public funding is handed over to a some form of social enterprise that represents health heritage and equine interests, and that ensures the benefits of all that public money go to the health, wellbeing, disability, preservation of precious heritage, and as designed for, equine activity and equine therapy. Only this community enterprise should be applying for more public funds for this so public funding is benefiting the community and all the proven needs in this region, where 21% have a long term health or disability issue.


Sent: Monday, September 19, 2016 12:38:34 PM
To: Brendan Hegarty
Subject: On Behalf of the Ad Hoc Saving Necarne Group regarding Necarne.

Mr Brendan Hegarty
Chief Executive
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council The Grange
Mountjoy Road
County Tyrone

Dear Brendan,

I am supporting this community need because of my background in youth mental health and wellbeing, work with special olympics, learning disabilities, youth justice, consultancy with Peter Quinn and a good knowledge of disabilities and health needs of area, but also of the equestrian world and historic buildings. I think that there may be a better option for the future of Necarne that needs to be explored before any commitment under the current Expression of Interest process.

On behalf of the Ad Hoc Saving Necarne group seeking to ensure public funds already invested in Necarne go to benefit the community and improve of quality of life, protection and creating of access to quality places and delivery quality services to meet proven need with evidenced solutions and to protect vital heritage we need to raise questions regarding Necarne Estate and current processes being applied by the council.

Why would the director of Community Health and Leisure, / the Council apply scoring, systems, terms, requirements and criteria that clearly favour private investors / business to the Expression of Interest scoring criteria, for this community health and leisure facility, that may result in the community and it’s needs being excluded, equestrian purpose abandoned? The opportunities stated in the Council’s Corporate aims “to improve quality of life for citizens, protecting and creating quality places, and delivering quality services” for citizens” to also appear to have been abandoned, in favour of private investment or a “company headquarters”. Neither criteria nor scoring were set to ensure community access, continuation of equestrian purpose which huge investment of public funds provided for, or to allow for needs of most vulnerable and disabled groups to be met. Why were community needs and aspirations of the Council’s Community Plan also not given priority in Expression of Interest process?

In the Expression of Interest process, why did the council not set criteria and scoring that reflected that this facility was and is a community, health and leisure facility, and therefore is needed in the region to benefit wellbeing, when evidence shows that Fermanagh has highest rates of learning disabled, and in Western region, highest rates of children with disabilities, and highest rates of those requiring disabled access, and other mental health and wellbeing statistics that show very clear health and wellbeing needs in the Fermanagh community? Especially at time when millions have been taken from learning disabled and their carers. Can the council recognise real needs and potential for this facility to provide therapeutic benefit, ensuring quality of life, protection and quality services to those who most need it?

Given the huge potential benefits for heath and wellbeing for the community from Necarne, in developing their Expression of Interest process, why did the council not set criteria and scoring that factored in the strong evidence of realities of the very high levels of disability, long term health issues, segregation, PTSD and mental health issues that exist in the community in this area?

In their Expression of Interest process, why did the council not set criteria and scoring that would ensure that the Castle was going to be urgently repaired?

What was the process for decision making, in which the council reached the decision that it was happy to abandon equestrian use over the next 25 years, of this much needed equestrian facility, to anyone who wished to lease Necarne, one of the country’s top equestrian facilities ? Does the council realise that this may effectively mean the ruination of the equestrian facility as well as the ruination of the castle?

In their expression of interest process, why did the council not set criteria and scoring that ensured continuing local access and use of facilities that were funded with £4 million plus of public funds?

In developing their expression of interest process, and forming the criteria and scoring did the council screen their decision to set and score as they did, and prioritise corporate plan, against Section 75 requirements?

Do the council recognise that the process and requirements they set for the expression of interest were prohibitive to community needs, especially to those with health and disabilities, their carers, and the young and older people who need to use the facilities? Can they acknowledge that the process was put out of reach and discriminated against the most vulnerable of our community?

Has the council accurately assessed this community’s health, disability and leisure needs and what conclusions did it draw in relation to the realities of existing needs?

Does the council have an understanding and knowledge of equine therapy and the extend of its benefits?

Did the civil servants share fully with the councillors all of the many approaches it had over recent years from those wishing to establish equine, equine therapy, and meet local needs of young and older people exposed to cold and wet conditions whilst striving to develop and learn, and other local interests / needs, whilst Necarne lay empty? Did the council then not recognise the opportunity to bring all of those interests together?

Given the impact of the decision on those with disabilities and the RDA who need the facility to meet acute needs of our most vulnerable people, why did the Council decide to not include their needs as a criteria and appropriately score these in the Expression of Interest process?

Given they put the castle up for Expression of Interest leading to tender, without any requirement for the repairs to it, how is the council going to ensure that the castle is going to be preserved?

Now that BBC put a spotlight on the Council’s neglect of the castle, and it stated that it is now in Sept 16 for the first time, going to remove ivy and trees from castle, is it going to employ professional structural surveyor expert in old buildings to assess the impact – if they do that without actually providing stability to the structure? Will they ensure that if they remove the ivy, which covers the internal walls – without roofing, pointing and structurally stabilising the castle, that it will not create more risk of the castle falling? and becoming beyond repair?

Why has the council allowed the castle to fall into disrepair and be listed by Ulster Architectural Heritage as in “critical” need? Who will take responsibility if the Castle falls in this winter’s storms?

What is the council’s plan to ensure the Castle is urgently assessed by expert in structural needs of buildings of its age? and as owner of the castle ensure immediate action on recommendations of expert to ensure it is repaired?

Can the business plan that was produced by council to justify the £4 million spend on Necarne be produced and the needs to justify the expenditure shown? Do the council consider that those needs have now disappeared?

Why have the council not encouraged release of the castle to the community who could have applied for grants to restore it?
Why have the council not encouraged the release of the equestrian centre who could have applied for grants to operate it, maintain it and instal renewable energy provision via many grants available?

Is there any conditions or written responsibilities that could make council either repair castle? or if they or anyone lease holder fail, as they have done, to care for this vital community heritage, then will they allow it to be passed it to community who do care, and could under social enterprise or trust apply for grants to restore it?

How can the council justify handing over the benefit of the investment of £4 million plus of public funds put into Necarne to any private business to generate private profits, instead of handing it to the community who need it and all the benefits of that public funds investment for quality of life, wellbeing and many of the council’s stated aims?

Why should a private business benefit from that £4 million plus of public funds instead of the community?

Could the council release Necarne estate to an appropriate community interest group formed from three key areas of potential benefit, a. health and wellbeing, b. historic interest and c. equine knowledge and skills, who could register as a charity, be exempt from rates and in a position to apply for grants and operate the estate for health, historic care and repair and equine needs? Can the council recognise that the lower overheads and wellbeing benefits would put such a social enterprise in a prime position to build a sustainable project firmly rooted in genuine needs and benefits?

Would the council listen to a presentation from an interim bridge Ad Hoc group broadly representing these needs to explain how this might work if the council released Necarne under peppercorn lease to the community, meet local needs and restore the Castle?

Could this happen before the council progressed the current ‘non binding’ Expression of Interest process which was so biased to corporate aims, and before the council votes on advancing any private interest ? If not why not?

In the light of a widespread concerns about the current Expression of Interest process and extensive public funds going to benefit any private investor and with so much potential loss or exploitation to / off the community, can the council delay progression that process until all community concerns have been fully heard and addressed, all needs and health statistics and potential benefits of handing Necarne to an appropriate supported community trust or social enterprise assessed? As public investment must best be used to optimise community benefits and there are clear needs and clear potential from evidence and statistics which can be provided.

Would the council support and assist with the development of such a unique group from the community and asset with scoping exercise of needs and funding potential to support community ownership? thereby ensuring that the £4 million of public funds appropriately benefited community needs, health and wellbeing and ensured repairs to castle were urgently secured, via fundraising events and applications, in the most sustainable way forward as it avoids rates, and enables all funding to flow appropriately to needs rather than current direction of private profit?

Can the council confirm that as per the clause in the Instructions, Terms and Conditions “Fermanagh and Omagh District Council does not bind itself to accept any submission”, the council does not have to proceed with this Expression of Interest process to lease Necarne? And that the council is still free to consider more sustainable options that would more definitely benefit the community and ensure pubic funds were put to best use?



The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives the public a general right of access to many kinds of information held by public authorities. The aim of the Act is to increase openness and accountability in the public sector.
This morning we are submitting this request under Council’s Freedom of Information duty to provide Information.
On behalf of the Ad Hoc Saving Necarne Group;
In the interest of safeguarding huge public investment already lodged into Necarne (and the potential for a private business to drawn down even more public funds) from going to benefit private business, instead of benefiting and meeting community needs to improve community access to Necarne, to ensure our quality of life, our protection, and preservation of our heritage, and quality places to benefit community, and the delivery of quality services to meet community needs, we nearby make the following requests under The Freedom of Information Act 2000.
1. Can the council please detail the total of public funds spent on Necarne estate, to include, what the council spent in total, broken down by purchase price, works completed and any other costs associated with it as well as how much DARD invested in the site so the community can know exactly how much public money the council plan on passing on to benefit a private investor over the next 25 yrs, and possibly longer, (who the council may also support with further bids for more public funds), rather than ensuring the huge public investment benefits the public who paid for it. Please also supply any accounts detailing full income and expenditure relating to Necarne Estate from when records began to present.
2. We require copies of all Expressions of Interest received by the Council in relation to Necarne estate – the recent process which closed on Friday the 16th of September 2016, which stated in its Terms and Conditions that
“Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is subject to the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Bidding organisations should be aware that the information provided in the completed tender and contract documents could be disclosed in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act. We will proceed on the basis of disclosure unless an appropriate exemption applies. No information provided by bidders will be accepted “in confidence” and the Council accepts no liability for loss as a result of any information disclosed in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act”
3. We require copies of all business cases written by the council, (which illustrate needs) when they applied for funding to purchase Necarne, to complete major and minor works and all associated costs drawn down from public funds. We need sight of the stated reasons / need used to justify pubic funds being spent on Necarne, as we believe the same needs used to drawn down millions to benefit the community, will still exist.
Everyone is encouraged to go to this link and copy and paste this request and submit it to the Council ASAP. When things are going wrong we need to open the situation up to allow light in.

20th September

Incoming evidence… for everywhere on this page you read £4 million plus of public investment – read £5 MILLION PLUS…. watch this space..

( DARD also spent a million of tax payers money on Necarne)

21st September

At first we just knew of young people being left out in the wet and cold as they strive to learn to ride, then we found out about the severe restrictions on Riding for Disabled (Omagh area centre going 7 days a week – provision here just a couple of hours despite highest levels of disabled children and adults in Fermanagh) Now as we grow, thats not the end of it, Bike Clubs, Running Clubs, Dog Walking events, and Concerts have all being told NO ACCESS!
Despite over £5 million of public funds and a council owned facility
The DARD / Cafre lease was blamed but we got the lease and among lots of other concerning things it states provides for:
“To enhance the public enjoyment of the countryside through having the centre open to the general public normally through the year (as a recreational facility) and to contribute to the economic and social regeneration of less developed rural areas”.
In the responses to questions during the recent Expressions of Interest process the council response shows there is NO CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO ANY EVENT
Q.5 “Are there any annual events that take place at Necarne compulsory to continue after a new tenant has been appointed, if yes what are they?”
Answer 5 “There is no continuing commitment to any event, however, the current lessee accommodates the annual Fermanagh Harriers Point to Point two day event and FODC have run the Fermanagh Cross Country event at the location”.
Q.6 Are there any rights of ways across the land of the Estate?.
Answer 6 There are no registered right of way across the property within the red boundary lines, however, the property is used extensively by walkers on a daily basis.
Question 12 Will the estate have to remain open for local amenity walks?
Answer 12 Proposals will be scored in accordance with the criteria in the invitation (Stage 2: Award Criteria: Pages 16 – 19). Bidders should include whatever uses and services they intend to implement. Please put all critical detail pertaining to your proposal in the business case
Question 15 Given the emphasis on equestrian pursuits, does the council have any objections in principle to these being abandoned?
Answer 15 It was not the intention to emphasise equestrian pursuits as all proposals will be considered and assessed in accordance with the evaluation process. It is true, however, that the current provision reflects equestrian uses. The provision of equestrian or any other types of pursuits is not a requirement. Submissions will be assessed based on the Assessment Criteria outlined within the documentation
Question 16 Do Fermanagh Harriers or who ever runs the annual Enniskillen Horse and Pony Show at Necarne each year- still hold permission to do that each year? for how long? or will facilitating an annual county horse show event at Necarne revert to new lease holder?
Answer 16 There is no binding agreement between the current lessee and any of those groups providing annual events at Necarne (Confirmed by CAFRE). CAFRE have been content to allow the property under their control to be used by these groups, as and when requested. Any future such agreements would have to be made by a new lessee.

The previous Lease between the Council and DARD / Cafre made provision for:
“To encourage the development of the International Centre of Excellence in equestrianism through equine education training and to continue to establish an international venue for equestrian tourism.
“To facilitate the provision of a range of major equestrian events similar to those presently in existence subject to sufficient sponsorship and support being forthcoming from the equine industry or any other source and to augment with other events of an equestrian or non equestrian nature subject to sufficient sponsorship and support being forth come for same”.

Patrick N Clarke’s comment on our page yesterday under Questions put to Council ” Well put and in agreement with the contents of the letter to the Council. In 2 weeks time the local Fermanagh based Lakeland Cycle Club was to hold a Cycle Cross event catering from age Under 6 up to Senior grades, but as the Dept of Agriculture hold the power even though the dept have ended their lease of Necarne, the event had to be cancelled by the Lakeland Cycle Club losing the prospect of a couple of hundred competitors and much the same of spectators in at the venue is now for 2016 and possibly for 2017 and beyond. Question should be asked as when the Dept of Agriculture ended the lease, why do they have the power to say that events can not be held at such a venue.
It should be noted that the local Lakeland Cycle Club held same event in 2015 and much praise was given to the Club on an excellent promotion. Risk, Health and Safety assessments were done and approved for the 2016 event but a spanner was thrown into the works. I believe that two other events were not allowed access namely a dog walking event and one of Ireland top C&W singer Nathan Carter concert had to be cancelled due to no access to Necarne. Hope that our council, councillors , MLAs take note”.
Lakeland Cycle Club were allowed to use Necarne for its event last year.
Its our understanding at this stage that Park Run who were banned from National Trust asked to use Necarne and were told NO.
So we now know of over £5 million of public funds invested in Necarne – which may go to benefit a private investor who excludes everyone because of the way the council have set criteria and failed to protect local needs.
The council must now
1. Abandon the current process to move lease.
2. Open the estate immediately to meet needs and learn about needs.
3. Work with local groups to establish a solid Not for Profit Trust / Social Enterprise, with representation from the local community, equine, equine therapy, health and wellbeing, and historic interests
4. Hand over the freehold of Necarne to the Trust so the £5 million meant to benefit the community and equine does at it was meant to do. The trust will qualify for exemption from rates, raise funds and apply for funding to ensure that Necarne is kept open for all to access, will provide for local health and disability needs, and save the castle.

September 22nd 2016


September 22nd 2016

At the core of our concern is the huge levels of local and regional needs among those with disabilities, mental health issues, and a wide range of medical conditions from cerebral palsy to stroke recovery, from addiction to challenging behaviour, for whom evidence shows, equine therapy which could be provided from Necarne, could transform their quality of life. Their needs were not factored into the council’s considerations for Necarne’s future. We cannot allow them to be ignored. Also not factored was a plan to save the castle from falling, nor access for all the groups who need Necarne, walkers, cyclists, or runners etc. However this Council’s denial of the existence of the equestrian industry and its potential, was not always the reality. Once Necarne was the Council’s pride and joy. Once they were part of most of the funding Necarne for equestrianism, as you can see from the newspaper cuttings photographed below. Withholding the use of Necarne from the young and older, disabled and abled, horse riders / drivers etc, involved in that industry is akin to closing the Lakeland Forum or the Bawnacre for football players or swimmers. What would happen if in a few years time the Council decided to close the Bawnacre or the Forum? and you were looking at old newspaper cuttings of the time when once upon a time, the council was proud of its swimmers, or footballers training there ? It’s hard for children brave enough to ride horses to do so in cold wet out doors – and it creates more risk as horses get spooky. Why is the council not only ignoring local needs for this desperately needed facility and all the potential for handing Necarne over to a Not for Profit Community Trust, which would be zero rated for rates, and be in a optimal position to drawn down funds when quality of life for our most vulnerable and well being for our community is at its core. Health and wellbeing jobs are well paid. And there would be jobs for many of our young people training at NI Equestrian college down the road. As well as events management and so much more. That is called a real sustainable project – based on solid evidence of local need – not some private business’s cash flow and employment projections based on some seasonal tourism – if the currency is right. That would keep the 5 Million public funding for equestrianism going where it was supposed to go and all the profit going back into providing for local needs – all too often ignored.
What the council used to be proud of still exists – greater than ever and growing and has plenty to offer tourism – just as they once thought it would. We must work to stop the council forgetting what it used to know and breathe life back into what should be a fabulous asset to Fermanagh and Tyrone as well as the region.
The 2007 Equine Strategy for Northern Ireland stated;
Equestrianism is probably one of the most extensive rural activities in Ireland today. It is a cross-community activity with complete social inclusion and without age, race or religious discrimination. The Industry and the people who make it up represent a complete cross-section of life in Northern Ireland without any of the “politics” seen in day-to-day life.
The equine industry is a significant and important part of the local economy. A mapping study entitled ‘Research on the Equine Sector in Northern Ireland’, completed in 2005, concluded that it is a substantial industry in its own right. It provided the following statistics (which have been accepted by the Equine Sub Group as the best possible estimate of the numbers of horses and ponies in Northern Ireland and which were calculated through primary research within the industry, desk research and consultations with a range of individuals working in the industry) (See further reading):
• Total horse and pony population exceeds 35,500
• Value of spend on services and products is approximately £110,000,000
• Value of land used is approximately £148,500,000 relating to almost 30,000 acres
• Labour value is approximately £54,000,000 and 5,657 FTEs
• Capital buildings worth an estimated £121,000,000
This has grown considerably since 2007/
Here are some old newspaper cuttings from when the Council believed in Necarne – some before DARD took it over and before the ‘lock out’ in recent times. After £5 million of public funds went into this dream – surely it should benefit this area just as the funding meant it too? and give all the existing industry here a chance. This has to be safeguarded – or all that £5 million will really have been wasted.

23rd September 2016 – Launch of Event to Help Councillors see Local Needs.

Councillors Meet and will Discuss Necarne on Oct 4th.
Basing the future on real area needs is the most sustainable for the estate and the best hope for attracting funding to save the castle.
Saving Necarne Protest Horse Ride, Cycle, Run for Local Needs. 2.30pm Saturday October 1st 2016 Enniskillen
Rules -Please try to abide by so All Proceeds as Smoothly as Possible!
Horses brought to ride should be good In traffic, not too young, or spooky.
Depending on your horse – it may be a good idea to lunge earlier.
Horses and tack must be well turned out and in good condition.
Please be assembled at Hollyhill Carpark 2:30 pm
We will invite Council Chairperson and Local Councillors to be there before set off.
Riders should have appropriate helmet that complies with regulations, and be appropriately dressed.
Horses must proceed in pairs, in walk only. No overtaking. One horse distance apart. Red ribbons if needed.
The route from Hollyhill Carpark is; to Irvinestown Rd, Belmore St, Townhall St, Paget Lane, Wellington Road, and back to Hollyhil Car Park. Police and Marshalls will be there to assist at junctions.
Riders, and if possible horses should wear fluorescent tabards and / or strips, or light colours.
The person riding the horse is liable for any damage, loss, or injury to any person or property. Participants take part at their own risk.
You must have your own, or be covered under, your club or BHS insurance.
For any queries and to help us gauge numbers, please text your name, where you are coming from, if you are cycling, horse riding, running or walking, and how many in your group to:
077 07 817 981
Watch and Like Saving Necarne Facebook Page for any Updates.
We will add sample protest banners during the week or make your own!


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