Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed a new shared vision for the future management of Lough Neagh.
Minister O’Neill was delivering the closing address at a three day conference hosted by Development Trusts NI in Toomebridge, Co Antrim.
The focus of the three day conference, which ran from the 29 February to 2 March, was on producing a shared vision for the future strategic management and development of the Lough along with commitments to positive co-ordinated action.
Speaking at the conference Minister O’Neill said: “It is encouraging to see such a wide range of conference delegates, representing such varied interest, at any conference and indeed your presence here today demonstrates how many individuals and organisations are impacted by what happens on Lough Neagh.
“The fact that you have each given up so much of your valuable time is a clear indication that you all share my passion for a better future for all those who live and work around the Lough.
“Despite the potentially competing interests involved in and around Lough Neagh I am delighted that a shared vision for a community led future operation and management of Lough Neagh has been agreed.”
“It is encouraging to see such a wide range of conference delegates, representing such varied interest, at any conference and indeed your presence here today demonstrates how many individuals and organisations are impacted by what happens on Lough Neagh.”Michelle O’Neill, DARD Minister
Concluding, Minister O’Neill said: “One of my priorities as Minister has been support for development of the Lough which will present real opportunities for rural tourism and economic progress not only for those communities which are directly adjacent to the Lough but throughout the north.”
Commenting on the success of the ‘Future Search’ Conference, Chair of Development Trusts NI, Nigel Kinnaird, said: “Lough Neagh is important to us all, it has a huge community of users, and many see it as an underdeveloped asset.
“To date our engagement has been very positive, with a series of meetings, and consultation events being held locally in and around the Lough.
“This week’s Future Search Conference attended by 64 key local influencers all of whom have a stake in Lough Neagh, has provided the community with an opportunity to examine the potential future vision for the Lough. We continue to encourage those who reside, work, engage with or are passionate about the Lough to be part of our work on this.”