Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assembly and chairman of the Stormont Committee for Employment and Learning, has called on the Sinn Fein Culture Minister “to consider Bushmills as the new HQ for a decentralised inland fishery unit, following a reduction of Stormont departments”.
Assemblyman Swann, who is UUP chief whip and North Antrim UUP chairman, issued his challenge to the Sinn Fein Minister during Stormont question time.
Mr Swann, pictured, asked: “On the restructuring of departments, will the minister provide the House with an update on where she sees inland fisheries finishing up as a joint unit?
“If there were any restructuring or relocation, could Bushmills be considered as a location for the new department?”
Responding to Assemblyman Swann, the Minister said: “All those discussions have yet to be concluded. The member will be aware from Bushmills and even Ballymoney that DCAL has had a strong presence in his constituency for decades.
“I am sure that the member will join me in commending and congratulating staff for the work that they do not just in the conservation of fish stocks but in their outreach and engagement with local communities, particularly children.
“It is important that those services not only are maintained but are added to in the new department where they will find their home,” the minister told Mr Swann.
Mr Swann added: “I will be keeping the pressure on the Sinn Fein Minister over this issue to ensure North Antrim does not miss out on any decentralization of departments.
“I do not want to see a situation develop where North Antrim becomes an administrative wasteland in terms of the civil service in Northern Ireland.”