BASALT may be synonymous with north Antrim and in particular with the world famous Giant’s Causeway but it has emerged that ‘basalt’ for vandal-proof picnic tables cannot be sourced locally but instead is being brought in from the other side of the world.

As part of public realm works to give picnic tables along the whole of the Causeway Coastal Route a unified theme picnic tables will be made of stone to reflect the basalt heritage of the area.

Moyle Council officer Kevin McGarry previously said one aspect of making the picnic tables and seats out of stone is to make them fire-proof and vandal-proof.

The matter was brought up again at a meeting of Moyle Council where councillors expressed amazement after another Council officer Aidan McPeake said the picnic table ‘basalt’ has to come in from China.

Sinn Fein councillor Cathal Newcombe, who has long experience working in the stone industry, said he had never heard of basalt in China.

Independent councillor Helen Harding said she had never heard of anything as stupid as having to bring in basalt from China but Mr McPeake said the appropriate size of basalt needed for the picnic table tops was unable to be sourced locally and hence they had to look “further afield”.

Cllr Newcombe accepted basalt cannot be cut into large sizes but he believed what was coming from China is not ‘basalt’ but a stone which will not weather as well as basalt.

But some councillors thought the positive aspects of the whole public realm works should be focused on.

Council Chairperson, Cllr Price McConaghy (Independent) and the Vice-Chair, Cllr Madeline Black (SDLP), said the overall scheme is a great boost for the area.

DUP councillor Robert McIlroy agreed and said: “I think it is a good news story for Moyle and we want to encourage the work. It is the first year in my Council life I have seen so many schemes in one year.”