Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman and member of the Stormont Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee, has called on the Executive “to take full advantage of the television blockbuster Game of Thrones and turn the constituency into Ulster’s Hollywood”.
Assemblyman Swann, who is also North Antrim UUP Chairman and Party Chief Whip, issued his call as the latest series of the popular drama series, some of which was filmed in the coastal village of Ballintoy, is aired on satellite television.
Mr Swann said: “This is very welcome news that the latest series is being screened and Ballintoy was a location for part of this series, which has gained global acclaim.
“Now is the opportunity to boost North Antrim, which has already been used for a number of locations in the series so far, so I would urge the Arts Minister and the Executive to seize the initiative.
“The first episode of series two finished with the main characters travelling through the ‘Dark Hedges’ of Armoy, and in the second episode, Ballintoy Harbour featured heavily as a location and promises to play a main part throughout this latest series.
“I was privileged as a member of the Stormont Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee to visit the actors on set earlier in the year and was really impressed with the major part that Northern Ireland is playing in the production of this series.
“And the announcement of another series to be filmed in North Antrim is a testimony of the local contribution, so that is why I believe the Executive has missed the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment by failing to include the screen industries as a specific target in the Program for Government.
“The Executive also needs to consider the future use of themed tourism in North Antrim with a tour of film locations.
“The Game of Thrones achievements can also benefit the creative industries sector, not just in North Antrim, but right across Northern Ireland as the skills created among locals will be of tremendous benefit to other film-makers.
“Our colleges and schools in North Antrim should be supported in specialising in creative industry subjects, such as sets, costumes, and audio visual skills.
“And all this is happening when another son of North Antrim, Liam Neeson, is starring in the latest Hollywood blockbuster in the cinema, Battleship,” said Assemblyman Swann, who is also the UUP’s Arts Spokesman.