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Aiming for a brighter future

A brand new initiative to help re-launch the city of Newry has been set up by local business men and women in order to make the town a much more attractive place to live and visit. Newry 2020 was the brainchild of local man Columba O’Hare and is aimed at taking advantage of everything the town has to offer over the next six years. Some of the initiatives’ ideas include the setting up of a vibrant Newry Canal, an Albert Basin that is a hub for Newry with regular large concerts, bringing back the Bessbrook to Newry tramline and opening a backpacker’s hostel to boost tourism. Newry 2020 is open to anyone who is full of ideas of what Newry can do to help boost its tourism and make the town a better and more vibrant area. Columba who is a member of 2020 thought of the idea when he put pen to paper some of the ideas he thought could revamp the town. “I sat down and thought that Newry is a town that has an awful lot going for it but people are very quick to knock it back,” said Columba. “There is an awful lot of promotion of other things on the outskirts of  Newry like the Fiddler’s Green Festival in Rostrevor, you have the Maiden of the Mournes in Warrenpoint and you have a lot of sporting festivals in Camlough. In a lot of cases it would seem that Newry just doesn’t have a niche festival to compete with the rest of them. There’s a lot of other things that Newry doesn’t seem to be building on. I wanted to put an idea in people’s head that Newry doesn’t always have to be this way. If there is anything in Newry that people want to see with the right backing there is nothing that can’t be done for the improvement of the city.” Newry 2020 is holding a public meeting on Wednesday February 12 at 7.30pm in the Sugar Supper Club Newry and has invited anyone who is bursting with ideas to come along. “We hope to get a representation of people from the town with lots of positive ideas and who are willing to get involved in the group to make Newry a better place to live for them and make it a more attractive place for visitors and tourists,” he said. “A lot of tourists are just passing through Newry instead of stopping of at places that we can offer them whether it’s a festival a historical attraction in the city or with something to do with the canal that we can exploit. At he minute we are not worried about funding. There are a lot of things we can do in Newry from an individual basis it doesn’t take a fortune of finance for someone to come up with a city wide jazz festival it takes just a few businesses to get together and come up with a plan. In the long term I would say we would be looking at projects and looking to apply at whatever finding is available. Right now money is not an issue. A lot of things can be done without money if you have the will to do it.” Columba believes that the group has nothing to lose and hopes in the long term that Newry can match the successful push of tourism just as Armagh has done. “I think it is important to emphasise all the great work already being done by many in the city in recent years on all levels,” he said. “We  just want to try to keep the momentum going and hopefully come up with a lot of new ideas leading to action that will make those ideas a reality. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain to try and bring Newry into line with a lot of other cities like Armagh for example. Armagh has really pushed its tourism end. It has a fantastic market place and a great theatre that has gone from strength to strength. Newry always seems to be playing catch up. If we can get as many people on board as possible including people who have run similar initiatives or ideas for what we can do with the city.” For more information on Newry 2020 or if you wish to get involved visit www.newry2020.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/newry2020


Newry Democrat

28th January 2014