Hazzard seeks Mournes Gateway

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

Wednesday 22 September 2021 7:53

Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP has asked Newry, Mourne & Down Council to urgently invest in a fit for purpose Mournes gateway in Donard Park, Newcastle.

The South Down MP was speaking following a site meeting in Donard Park with senior Council management to discuss the lack of visitor information and facilities.

Mr Hazzard said:

“The Mournes are a unique natural asset, not only in the local Council district, but across the north of Ireland, and indeed much further afield.

“However the recent growth in visitor numbers post-Covid19 has starkly illustrated that the lack of fit for purpose interpretive signage and information, not to mention the lack of visitor facilities, seriously undermines the visitor experience.

“Donard Car Park is probably the most utilised access point onto the Mournes for visitors, yet signage and information is non-existent. This leads many visitors to wonder aimlessly off into nearby residential areas and many more to commence their ascent without the appropriate safety advice or emergency Information.

"There needs to be significant investment in upgrading this access point in keeping with the Mournes status as one of Ireland’s most environmentally sensitive natural assets.

“Its important that this new gateway is co-designed in partnership with those local organisations and charities with a responsibility for protecting both people, and the Mournes landscape.

Cllr Cathy Mason added:

“With visitor numbers to the area doubling over the pandemic, it is critical that people enter the Mournes in the safest possible manner; are aware of the access points, trail difficulty information, and personal safety equipment they will need. A gateway project and signage would improve this drastically.

“I would hope that this important initiative could be progressed as soon as possible, so that the new facilities would be in place for next year’s peak visitor season.”

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