A possible financial lifeline for the refurbishment of Greencastle Harbour appears to have emerged following a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) on Friday.
The physical overhaul of the harbour ground to a halt amidst the economic slump five years ago in 2010. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food had no option but to cease work on the project when government funding disappeared after drastic monetary cuts as the financial crisis took a hold.
At that time the site was handed back to Donegal County Council and the workers on site were laid-off and the project definitively halted. A mainstay of the project had been the building of a breakwater at the mouth of the harbour. When the work was left uncompleted in 2010 many contended the unfinished work left the harbour in a perilous condition. And, when work on the revamp halted almost 8 million euro had already been spent.
However, at meeting of the NSMC in Armagh last Friday, it emerged that the Irish Government has pledged 2.5 million euro to a North West Development Fund which will be matched by the Northern Ireland Executive.
Speaking about the announcement Fine Gael TD for Donegal North-East, Joe McHugh said there has been continuous contact between the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister in Belfast.
He said: “At the meeting I raised the development at Greencastle Harbour and how there was a commitment given for continuing the works already commenced. I believe a cross-border approach, led by Donegal County Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with feed in from the Loughs Agency could see this work begin again.”
Deputy McHugh also said he believes the resumption of the project at Greencastle Harbour was “imperative” and that it was supported by the Department of the Marine.
“I have already sought a meeting with Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney in Dublin to see how we can get things moving. The role of Greencastle in the North West cannot be overlooked. Fishermen are re-investing in boats and gear. The number of boats from Northern Ireland, Scotland and the South of Ireland landing into Greencastle is on the increase.
“Greencastle harbour is of strategic importance and is ideally suited to facilitate cruise ships and tourists who are onward bound to Donegal, Derry and the Causeway Coast. As a result, all of these communities and local businesses will benefit from a tourism perspective. I strongly believe this project should be a key focus of the North West Gateway,” he said.