LIMAVADY’S historic past is “sometimes under appreciated” for its economic value, local MLA George Robinson has stated.
The DUP man took part in a debate at Stormont, following a report into the economic value of Northern Ireland’s Historic Environment, and called on DoE Minister Alex Attwood to put some of the report’s recommendations into practice.
He pointed to the numerous historic attractions “within half an hour of Limavady”, and expressed his hope that the Broighter Hoard of gold, a series of artefacts of huge significance found in Limavady, might be returned to the area.
Speaking to the Stormont Assembly, the Limavady man said: “I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate, because my constituency relies heavily on its historic past to attract visitors and tourists, hopefully to all other areas of Northern Ireland so that we can all benefit from the financial spin-off that most tourists contribute to our hard-pressed economy.
“Within half an hour of Limavady, we have the electricity power house in Roe Valley Country Park, Mountsandel fort in Coleraine, the Martello tower in Magilligan, Hazlett House in Castlerock, the Limavady workhouse, Mussenden Temple in Downhill and Cutts House in Coleraine.
“Of great tourism importance to the Limavady area would be the return from Dublin of the much-acclaimed Broighter Gold, either on a temporary or a permanent basis. There is also the training dome of RAF Limavady at Aghanloo and the many historic attractions in the city of Londonderry.
We have an area that is rich in history, but I argue that it is sometimes underappreciated for the value it can bring to our local economy.
“In the report ‘A Study of the Economic Value of Northern Ireland’s Historic Environment: Summary Report’, I welcome recommendations one and two, especially as the other recommendations are dependent on those being in place.
“Recommendation one addresses the need for: ‘a coherent strategy and implementation plan’ to maximise the economic value of our historic environment. That is much needed, as many of our historic gems are not fully utilised.
“Recommendation two is perhaps more problematic in the current economic climate, as it calls for greater public expenditure.
“While I appreciate that there is great potential for growth in this sector, I am mindful that funding will always be an issue for the Executive. However, I ask the Minister to see what he can afford to address the recommendations, as that would have an impact on employment in the construction, tourism and retail sectors.
“Considering those issues, I hope that the Minister will do what he can, so that Northern Ireland gets full value from its historic sites as a way of helping us out of these harsh economic times and helping us to move forward towards the future.”
Speaking after the debate, the Limavady man highlighted how the historical assets might best be capitalised upon: “Everybody must be aware that by careful marketing of these, and other historical assets, it is possible to increase and develop our tourism trade and, of course, create jobs. Just in East Londonderry we have numerous places well worthy of a visit, never mind Northern Ireland as a whole.”
He added: “I hope the Minister can find even limited funds as any money can be well used to local advantage.”