'Lighthouse plans must be made public' - Hazzard
The time has come for the Commissioners for Irish Lights (CIL) to outline to the local community what progress, if any, has been made regarding the future of St Johns Point Lighthouse, Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP has said.
The South Down MP was speaking following a decision by Newry, Mourne & Down Council to invite local campaigners into the Council to present the overwhelming case for protecting the local historical landmark.
Chris Hazzard said:
“I welcome this initiative by Newry, Mourne & Down Council to invite the 'Lecale Lightkeepers’ campaign group to present to Council representatives - this should have happened alongside the CIL briefing to Council a number of months ago but better late than never.
“Back in 2015 when plans leaked out that CIL wanted to remove the sweeping beam from St John’s Point Lighthouse the local community were both shocked and angry that such an act of vandalism could be permitted on one of our most special local heritage assets.
“Since then a vibrant local campaign has engaged with political representatives in Downpatrick, Belfast, and Dublin and the Commissioners themselves in an effort to protect the historic sweeping beam and we were successful in securing a two year reprieve.
“Following this reprieve, a motion to Council won the overwhelming support of the public representatives in April 2018 in which the Council were mandated to ‘protect the sweeping beam in its current form’.
“Four years after the local community were inadvertently made aware of CIL’s plans to crudely modify St John’s Point Lighthouse, we still have no firm proposals from CIL. That is unacceptable.
“On the back of the Lecale Lightkeeper’s presentation to Council in the weeks ahead, CIL should make the necessary arrangements to engage with the local community as a matter of priority.
"Continuing to keep the public in the dark over the future of St John’s Point Lighthouse only stiffens our resolve to protect our local heritage.”