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Sinn Féin to meet Tourism Minister Nigel Dodds over Causeway decision

19 September, 2007

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay will lead a delegation to meet Tourism Minister Nigel Dodds later today, Wednesday 19th September, to discuss the decision to suspend the public sector proposal for a Giant's Causeway Visitors Centre. Ballymoney Councillor Philip McGuigan and Moyle Councillor Cara McShane will also attend.

Speaking prior to the meeting Mr McKay said:

"People are deeply concerned at the manner in which the public proposal for a Visitors Centre at the Causeway was dropped last week, and whilst the Minister has backtracked on this position this week there are still many questions which need to be answered in regard to the way these decisions were made and the viability of the private sector proposal.

"This is a matter of great public concern and we will be outlining our position to the Minister that the public-sector proposal for a Visitors Centre is the best option for the people of the area and for the site itself.

"Last week Nigel Dodds conclusively said that "Government will no longer be the developer of a new visitors' centre. There is no doubt that since he made that statement he has clearly made a u-turn on the issue and by stating that the public proposal is on hold, rather than being ditched he is reacting to pressure from public opinion on this issue. We urgently need to clarify his position."

Daithí McKay has also welcomed the statement from UNESCO clarifying their position on the private proposal for a Visitors Centre at the Giants Causeway. The statement from Dr Mechtild Rossler clearly contradicts the private developer's assertion that she had been 'impressed' with his proposal.

Mr McKay added:

"This statement from UNESCO has to be welcomed and highlights the fact that the problems facing the private proposal seem to be even greater than any issues that may exist around the public sector proposal.

"What we need now is some clarification from the Environment Minister as to how UNESCO's position on the private development will affect her position that she was 'minded' to approve this proposal. The National Trust have stated quite clearly that the private proposal for a Visitors Centre do not meet UNESCO requirements.

"It is vitally important that no Minister makes any decisions which could threaten the Giant's Causeway's World Heritage Status." ENDS

Note to Editors

Mr McKay will be questioning the Minister of Environment Arlene Foster on this issue when she faces the Assembly's Environment Committee tomorrow morning, Thursday 20th September.

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