Lough Neagh water quality an important focus - Irwin

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​The DUP’s Newry and Armagh assemblyman William Irwin MLA, who is also a member of the newly restored DAERA committee at Stormont, has been speaking on a motion in the assembly on the blue/green algae issue in Lough Neagh.

Mr Irwin said that whilst the issue of blue/green algae on the Lough last year was a shock to many people, and agreed that action must be taken to lessen the impact of the problem, he said that anyone suggesting a ‘quick fix’ will solve the problem is mistaken.

He stated: “There is no doubt that the issue of Lough Neagh and the blue/green algae problem witnessed last year requires urgent attention and that was the view that I gave in my contribution in the Assembly chamber this week in response to the tabled motion.”

He added: “The Lough is vital to Northern Ireland containing around 800billion gallons and supplying 40 per cent of the province’s drinking water, therefore, actions on the issue of reducing the prevalence of the algae are important however they must be appropriate and tested methods with measurable outcomes. It is very clear from the debate that there are no quick fixes.”

Blue Green Algae. (Pic: DAERA)Blue Green Algae. (Pic: DAERA)
Blue Green Algae. (Pic: DAERA)

Mr Irwin continued: “As I said in my commentary in chamber the reasons for the prevalence of the algae in 2023 were for very many reasons and when we consider the very warm June and very wet July and August the experts state these conditions accelerated the growth of the bacteria. Add in the associated issue with other streams of bacteria entering the Lough and the zebra mussel invasive species issue, it is clear to see that a resolution to this problem will take some careful planning.”

Mr Irwin concluded: “It is imperative that we see progress on this issue however progress must be measured and well thought out to ensure the best outcomes for the efforts of the various agencies that will be expended in reducing this problem and improving the water quality of the lough.”

The newly appointed DAERA Minister, Andrew Muir, has said he will “not shy away” from the work that needs to be done to begin tackling the crisis, but warned it will take investment, commitment and partnership working over decades.