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Planning Refusal for Darren Clarke Golf Course Highlights Need For Urgent Return to Devolved Government

19 February, 2007


Upper Bann Sinn Féin Assembly candidate, Cllr. Dessie Ward, has slammed the decision of the Planning Service to refuse planning permission for the proposed Darren Clarke championship Golf Course and Golf Academy at Gilford castle as "yet another indictment of direct rule".

Cllr. Ward said:

"Once again we see the outworking of direct British misrule with the decision by Planning Service, under the direction of unaccountable direct rule ministers, to refuse planning permission to build a championship golf course and golf academy. at Gilford Castle. This is yet another indictment of direct rule. This development was a key part of regeneration plans for Gilford and the decision to refuse planning permission now also puts into jeopardy plans to build a four star hotel on the site of the old Gilford Mill.

Cllr. Ward continued:

"Does anybody believe that if myself or John O'Dowd or David Simpson or any member of any other political party was Minister of the Environment in a fully functioning devolved assembly at Stormont that we would have presided over this kind of scenario? ...I don't think so! This situation once again highlights the need for an urgent return to devolved government with locally accountable ministers.

Cllr. Ward concluded:

"I will be working with the planners through Banbridge District Council in the time ahead to find ways of progressing this application to the satisfaction of everyone. If elected to the Assembly this issue is something that I and the Sinn Féin team will be raising with the relevant minister. It is totally unsatisfactory that a prime pumping project such as this is being allowed to flounder due to the whims of the Planning Service currently working under the direction of unaccountable direct rule ministers." ENDS

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