McCarthy Proposes Assembly Debate On Economic Development In Ards Peninsula
PAlliance Strangford MLA Kieran McCarthy will propose an adjournment debate in the Assembly to discuss economic development in the Ards Peninsula. He has brought this debate to the Assembly to primarily discuss the threat to close Exploris. The debate will take place later this evening.
Kieran McCarthy MLA said: “I brought this adjournment debate to the Assembly to primarily discuss the threat to close Exploris and the negative economic impact that this would have on the Ards Peninsula.
“Exploris attracts about 100,000 visitors each year, who add about £3million to the local economy. The hospitality sector will be greatly affected if they lost such a large number of visitors.
“In order to ensure it has a sustainable long-term future, Ards Borough Council and Friends of Exploris have agreed to produce a business plan for the facility. I have also called on the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to ensure that her Department works with Council officials so that we can produce a positive outcome that keeps Exploris open.
“The loss of Exploris will have a negative impact on the wider economy, especially as we look to increase the number of tourists to Northern Ireland. If a successful business plan is agreed, then I hope that the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment will ensure that Exploris is properly promoted by her Department, something that they have not been doing.
“As the campaign progresses, Alliance will continue to work at a national and local level to save Exploris.
“As well as tourism, the Ards Peninsula depends on farming and fishing to keep people in employment. There are, however, a lot of tradesmen in the area who have been badly affected by the downturn in the construction sector since 2008.”
Reprieve For Exploris While Business Case Is Prepared
As efforts are being made to protect the Exploris Aquarium, Ards Borough Council released a statement last week (20 November) following a council meeting. A spokesperson said: “The Council’s Development Committee has agreed this evening to recommend that, in light of funding offers from the Department of the Environment, the Council extends its stay on the closure of Exploris until January’s council meeting (29 January) to allow officers time to produce and submit a business case as requested by the department. The Committee stated that this would allow Minister Durkan’s and other relevant departments to confirm the final detail of capital and revenue funding proposals.
“While this is a Committee recommendation, given the short time scales involved, the Council’s staff will begin work on the business case immediately.”