Whilst acknowledging its disappointment at the failure of the Narrow Water bridge project to receiving short listing for European funding, The Warrenpoint Heritage Committee (WHDC) has said it will continue to work towards the delivery of this and other key projects in the area. In a statement the group said: “We wish Newry and Mourne District Council and its partner Warrenpoint Harbour Authority every success in the next round of its application for funding from the European Union to deliver a 200 berth marina for the town. At the same time we cannot hide our deep disappointment at the failure of the proposal for a new bridge at Narrow Water to make the cut. We have always believed that the bridge was a more suitable vehicle to bring the number of visitors to our region to sustain and enhance the employment prospects of our citizens. We can only hope that those in authority will so all in their power to find out the cause of this failure and put it to rights before the next round of INTERREG funding.” That disappointment aside the group is hopeful of drawing Heritage Lottery funding in the region of £400,000 for the upgrade of Warrenpoint Park. “WHDC with the co-operation of Newry and Mourne District Council moves towards completing its application for a heritage grant for the refurbishment of the Municipal Park which will include an interpretative centre and area signage to show off the richness of our history and our environment.” The group which was formed last year has already made a considerable impact in terms of pressing for the improvement of Warrenpoint’s tourism product. Indeed last autumn, group’s spokesman Bill Reilly told the Reporter that the opening of Narrow Water Keep would strengthen the case for the bridge. “An essential outcome from our area is the building of the bridge and the opening of the castle would increase the demand for and value of such a structure as tourists would want to explore all the attractions right around the lough, Mr Reilly said at the time. After the article appeared in the Reporter the matter was raised at council level by Crotlieve representative Declan McAteer (SDLP) – with the council then approaching the owners of the monument NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) on the matter. According to the Heritage Committee the Keep now looks set to enjoy extended opening hours this summer. “We are delighted that our proposal to have the Elizabethan Tower House (Keep) opened during the peak season of July and August was pursued by councillor McAteer and supported by his colleagues was brought to a successful conclusion,” the statement read. “We can only hope that the Keep will be staffed by suitably stained personnel who can talk on the history of this very important site an inform visitors on events in the region, places to visit and places to eat.
28th March 2012