Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has viewed new tourism facilities on Rathlin Island following £350,000 funding from the Rural Development Programme.
As she viewed new pontoon facilities and a 30 bed tourist hostel on the island Minister O’Neill said that providing world-class rural tourist facilities in the north is an essential component of the Rural Development Programme.
The project was funded in partnership between Moyle Council and Axis 3 of DARD’s Rural Development Programme, at a cost of £352,886, which also included provision of camping pods at Cushendall.
The Minister said: “A key aim of the Rural Development Programme is to create high quality tourist facilities in rural areas and this is an excellent example of how that is possible.
“The project will provide appropriate modern pontoon facilities for those engaged in water-based tourism such as sailing, kayaking etc and will increase visitor numbers to the Island and provide a much needed economic boost for local businesses.”
“This is one of 32 strategic projects, totalling over £17 million, that my Department is supporting across the north, which are helping to boost investment in rural areas and maximise the drawdown of the EU funding available.
“In addition to stimulating the economy in rural areas, the Rural Development Programme is providing much needed support to our local construction sector which has suffered greatly during the economic downturn.”
The Minister also took the opportunity to meet with local farmers and fishermen to discuss the difficulties of farming on an island.
Chair of North East Region (NER) Joint Council Committee, James Currie said: “NER are delighted to work alongside the DARD and Moyle council in providing this tourist facility on Rathlin Island.
“It will greatly increase the capacity for sea-based tourists to moor as they explore the Island.”
The Axis 3 Rural Development Programme, Measure 3.3, funding for the Moyle Sea-Based Tourism Project is administered by North East Region (NER).
NER covers the rural areas of Coleraine, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Moyle and Larne and delivers funding under the following: Farm Diversification, Micro- Business, Tourism, Basic Services, Village Renewal and Rural Heritage.