Gardiner’s rage over rath increases

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WARINGSTOWN has suffered a significant financial loss due to the destruction of a rath in the centre of the village according to a local MLA.

UUP Assembly member Sam Gardiner has said the Environmental Department’s own figures quantify the damage done to Waringstown by department’s negligence.

He has called for a major interpretative centre and community centre to built by way of reparation, saying it’s the least the village deserves.

The Ulster Unionist has given strong support to a motion calling on the Environment Minister to implement the recommendations of the report ‘A Study of the Economic Value of Northern Ireland’s Historic Environment’ published by the Department of the Environment.

He said: “The historic environment generates 5,400 jobs, £287 million of output and has a gross value added of some £135 million per year. When the domestic tourism based on the historic environment is added into this, the annual value to our economy leaps to £532 million and the number of jobs generated jumps to over 10,000.

“This equates to a third of our information and communications sector as a jobs generator. Every pound invested in the historic environment produces a return of between £3 and £4 for our economy. These are the Department of the Environment’s own figures and they must be judged by them.

“The above figures show just what a significant financial loss the village of Waringstown suffered at the hands of developers who destroyed a rath at the Grange site in the centre of the village dating from the era of St Patrick.”

Mr Gardiner added: “I am now calling for reparations to be made to the village of Waringstown by the Department of the Environment over the greatest act of archaeological and historical vandalism of this century which happened because of the now widely accepted inaction and negligence of the Department and it’s Environment and Heritage Service. Apologies are simply not enough.”

“Now that the Assembly has debated the report – ‘A Study of the Economic Value of Northern Ireland’s Historic Environment’ – the Environment Minister must move to make reparations to the village of Waringstown.

“I want to see a major archaeological survey of the Waringstown area carried out by the Department of the Environment’s Environment and Heritage Service archaeologists. There are several archaeological sites, as yet unexcavated, in the village area. A 19th century Ordinance Survey map shows these sites clearly. Clearly in the early Christian period Waringstown was a major area of settlement.”

He commented: “I also want to see a major interpretative centre and community centre built by way of reparation by the Department of the Environment in the village.

“This is the least Waringstown can expect from the blatant removal of its important historical past, with the potential to generate income locally.

“Waringstown, by losing this important slice of its heritage, has lost the potential of earnings from tourist related ventures and this is down directly to negligence by the Department of the Environment. As with all cases of negligence, the guilty parties must pay.”