Controversy has arisen after claims made yesterday that NATO troops are using Magilligan beach for training.
Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín made the claim during a call for the British Army training area at Magilligan to be closed “if there is any chance of building a tourist industry in the area”.
“At present large sections of Benone beach are closed during long periods due to British Army live training exercises along the beach. This includes helicopter gunships strafing the dunes with rockets and machine gun fire. We also believe that other NATO armies are using the area for live fire exercises,” he said.
“When the live firing exercises are being held fishermen and boat users are prevented from using a section of Lough Foyle and a large section of the beach is closed. This is having a detrimental effect on those who make a living from the sea and those in the tourist industry.”
Mr. O’hOisin went on to claim: “Apart from the obvious dangers these exercises present they also pose an environmental risk to the local area. The Army base is also polluting the Lough with untreated sewage being pumped directly into the sea.”
The East Derry assemblyman said Benone beach is one of the longest beaches in Ireland and “has the potential to generate the tourist industry in the area by joining up the North Coast attractions of Giants Causeway with the Derry area”.
“If the potential of this area is to be maximised it must be demilitarized immediately and allow the local community to utilise this asset to regenerate the area,” he added.