‘Rumoured withdrawal’ of Minister says McShane

AN information evening to discuss the introduction of a National Park in the Causeway Coast and Glens will go ahead in Ballycastle despite the “rumoured withdrawal of the Environment Minister Alex Attwood” according to Independent councillor Padraig McShane.

The meeting, set for Wednesday night (November 14) at 8pm in Sheskburn House, Ballycastle, had met with the approval of Minister Attwood’s diary and according to one of those involved with the organisers, Councillor Padraig McShane.

Cllr McShane said: “The Minister himself had approved the contents of the agenda little over a week ago. The minister has previously indicated he wanted two National Parks to be created, with the Mournes, the Causeway coast, the Antrim Glens and Fermanagh Lakelands identified as possible areas. But in the first public meeting in Cookstown to promote his plans, even the most unassuming spectators believed the SDLP man was ill-prepared and took serious backlash as he was found wanting.

“All parties to the Executive signed up to the idea of National Parks here in the 2007 programme for government but many have now hedged their bets since the public backlash to the proposals.”

Regarding the Ballycastle meeting, Cllr McShane added: “The meeting will go ahead as planned. Minister Attwood will have a chair reserved and he is more than welcome to attend. The meeting is first and foremost an information evening for the local community.

“The local action group put an enormous effort into this presentation and worked in partnership with the Minister, changing the date to suit his diary and going as far as to agree the agenda for the evening.

“I do not wish to suggest the Minister is running scared but we attempt to deal in facts here. The Minister got a poor response from the first public meeting in Cookstown and followed that up with a no show in Newcastle. He did apologise saying he did not receive enough notice. The Causeway Coast and Glens group invited the Minister months ago affording him the opportunity to be informed at all times. I can no longer define what enough notice means.”