Newry, Mourne and Down District (NMDDC) Chairperson, Laura Devlin has expressed gratitude to everyone involved in responding to the major wildfire incident on the Mourne Mountains.
“The wildfires have been absolutely devastating for our environment, wildlife and landscape. It is heart-breaking and very hard to stomach that parts of our Mourne Mountains and its habitats were damaged and so badly impacted by this incident,” said Cllr Devlin.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and all the emergency services and government agencies who assisted with this incident. They were all incredible, working under very challenging conditions. The images released of Fire and Rescue Service personnel high up in the mountains on charred ground, with the Irish Sea as a backdrop, was harrowing. I would also like to say a massive thank you to the business and local community who, as ever, rallied round with food and supplies and gave continued verbal support and encouragement to all involved. This is testament to the respect and support that the Fire and Rescue Service has in the wider Newcastle area and our love of the Mourne Mountains. I would also like to highlight the amazing work done by Mourne Heritage Trust. They really cherish our landscape and all within it, however more funding needs to be allocated to their area of work.
““What is needed is an overarching and funded visitor management strategy from central government. If anything, this weekend has again shone a spotlight on this need.
“We know people visit the Mournes for its stunning natural environment and landscape.
“I am confident what has happened will not deter people from visiting in the future. However, we really need that sharp focus on responsible and sustainable tourism, which again goes back to my point for the need of an overarching strategy for visitor management and preventative management for such wildfires,” added the chairperson.