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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Fresh attempt to develop tourism potential of Lough Neagh

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has thrown its weight behind a fresh attempt to develop the tourism potential of Lough Neagh.

The local authority is to engage with colleagues in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Mid Ulster District Council with a view to improving the management of the lough.

A motion tabled by Antrim Ulster Unionist Councillor Jim Montgomery says that “given the strategic importance of this under-utilised resource, then efforts should be made to sustainably develop Lough Neagh, so that it provides significant economic, tourism and environmental benefits to the wider council area”.

Speaking at Monday evening’s council meeting, Cllr Montgomery said:

“For years, we have been under utilising the lough but we could have been making better use of it for tourism, economic and leisure use. It has become popular for people going on early morning swims. We have a great asset that we could be using in a better way.

“I propose we work with other councils and Lough Neagh Partnership and look at initiatives to take forward the opportunity to do that.”

The motion was seconded by party colleague Glengormley Alderman Mark Cosgrove who said:

“Clearly there is a need to work closely together. We are taking the first step in maximising the unbelievable potential Lough Neagh has for the citizens of all councils involved.”

Antrim SDLP Cllr Roisin Lynch commented:

“I absolutely support the need for all the councils that surround the lough to grab the opportunity that is there.”

Cllr Lynch noted that Lough Neagh is not managed as part of Waterways Ireland.

“It is nobody’s child and everybody’s child.”

Antrim DUP Cllr Paul Dunlop BEM reported that there are currently “none or few” public jetties on the lough.

“When the water is low, they can’t be used,” he noted.

Antrim Alliance Cllr Neil Kelly emphasised the need for greater access for kayaks and canoes.

Airport Sinn Fein Cllr Annemarie Logue commented:

“We are losing the history of the lough. It would be great to get that history recorded.”

Meanwhile, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £9,000 to secure a wartime vessel at Lough Neagh.

The council is preparing for the arrival of wartime torpedo vessel ‘The Joyce’ which will be moored alongside the beach jetty at The Gateway Visitor Centre at Lough Shore in Antrim.

The Joyce operated on Lough Neagh from 1943 as a torpedo retrieval boat. It was designed and built by the Admiralty for use as a recovery boat during test firing of torpedoes.


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