Minister O'Dowd to Establish Relationship with Lough Neagh Partnership
Minister for Infrastructure, John O’Dowd, has met with stakeholders of Lough Neagh Partnership and has given his commitment to establishing a formal relationship with the organisation.
At the meeting hosted by the Partnership at Ballyronan Marina, Gerry Darby, Strategic Manager of the Lough Neagh Partnership, made a presentation to the Minister and his officials detailing the challenges and opportunities surrounding the Lough and the need to create an interdepartmental working group and deeper working relationships with Department for Infrastructure officials.
The presentation was followed by a positive discussion between the Minister and stakeholders from the sandtrading and fishing industries, together with community and other political representatives.
Arnold Hatch, the chairperson of the Partnership said: “The meeting with Minister O’Dowd was very productive. It provided the Lough Neagh Partnership with a platform to brief the Minister on what we have achieved in the past 10 years, and how, if we work together in good faith, the support of his Department could assist with developing the Lough for future generations.”
“The present needs of Lough Neagh include the fact that it still does not have a navigation authority. Future objectives outlined included improving the marker system and providing a dedicated permanent dredger for the Lough to help clear river mouths and fishermen quays. Other issues discussed were the ownership of the bed and soil of the Lough, tourism development and climate change mitigation. The commitment from Minister O’Dowd is welcome, as the formalisation of a relationship with the Executive, Department for Infrastructure or the establishment of an interdepartmental committee would help immeasurably with the strategic management of the Lough.”
Minister O’Dowd expressed that as a constituent, he was all too aware of the needs of the Lough and of the endless opportunities that exist for the people who live and work there and for the wider community. On committing to formalising a relationship, he said he would do anything he could in his time as Minister to help Lough Neagh.
For further information on Lough Neagh Partnership, please visit www.loughneaghpartnership.org or follow Lough Neagh Partnership on facebook @loughneaghpartnership and on twitter @loughneaghpart.