Town shops being ignored

SHOPKEEPERS in Lurgan’s battered centre had been side stepped by the government according to Westminster MP Harold McCusker in March 1978.

He had hit out at Lurgan’s absence from the list of Ulster towns qualifying for government aid under a town centre face-lift scheme.

He was preparing to table a question in Parliament, calling on the government to give urgent consideration to Lurgan’s possible inclusion as well as that of Portadown’s.

Traders in nine towns including Belfast and Londonderry qualified for 80 per cent grants towards improving and renovating their properties under the scheme.

The main objective of the exercise by the Department of the Environment was “to achieve significant improvement in the appearance of the central areas of the province’s larger towns particularly those with poor appearance and high unemployment.”

Mr McCusker felt that both Lurgan and Portadown fulfilled those requirements and should have been included with Armagh, Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Newry, Omagh, Strabane and, of course, the two cities.

“I believe the 10 year period of decay that has unfortunately taken place in the town centre is now over.

“There is evidence of revitalisation all round,” he said.

“If Craigavon is going to develop, it will do so around the established areas of Lurgan and Portadown and therefore the traders in those two towns should be given the same opportunity as those in the other towns.”

Mr McCusker was optimistic that shopkeepers in Lurgan would ultimately benefit from the government scheme.