BULLDOZERS removed vegetation along part of the Loughshore as a ‘makeover’ got underway at a council-owned beauty spot recently.
As well as returning Derrymore Quay to former glories, school children will benefit from environmental activities at the site co-owned by Craigavon Council and the Earl of Shaftesbury.
While the redevelopment at Derrymore has been largely welcomed some concerns have been expressed about the consultation process.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said: “This redevelopment is helping to reclaim a public space for local people and visitors.
“The people who live in the row facing Derrymore Quay have for many years complained about the state of it. It was overgrown and unrecognisable as the beauty spot it once was.
“The site was being used as a dumping ground and alongside the community group we’ve worked long and hard to have it cleaned up.
“The project ties in with Derrymore School (St Mary’s) - they’ll benefit from an environmental play project on the site.”
The Derrymore Quay project is being funded with £7,000 from Northern Ireland Environmental Link.
Kieran Nelson, who has lived facing the quay all his life, said: “It’s a hell of a lot better than it was.
“They needed to do something about it. It was in a terrible state.”
Mr Nelson, an eel fishmerman, said he hoped the removal of the vegetation would solve the rat problem in the area and make the quay a better place for residents, fishermen and visitors alike.
The ‘MAIL’ also spoke to Gerard Mullholland, a fisherman who claims he had not been consulted about the work at Derrymore Quay.
Mr Mullholland, who grew up beside the quay, but now lives in Lurgan, said: “I’ve fished down here all my life. Since the council took it over they’ve never tried to accommodate me.
“Fishermen were here long before the council ever owned the land.”
He claimed the local community group were supposed to liaise with the community about the proposal, but said they haven’t spoke to everyone.
“I was very disappointed not to be involved in the consultation process,” said Gerard.
He added: “My boats and fishing equipment were damaged on a number of occasions. It’s got to the point where I can’t leave anything down there any more. My fear is, by making this area even more accessible to the public, vandalism will increase.”
He claimed the area is protected as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).
Mr Mullholland said: “I was never allowed to clear it. It’s a case of one rule for one and one rule for another.”
Mrs Kelly explained that the community had been informed about the project, which she campaigned for two years for.
She said permission had been granted by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to carry out the work at the Loughshore site.