Sinn Féin ‘will not support any proposal which trades short term economic benefit for a few people to the overall detriment of the Mid Ulster area and which leaves a poisonous legacy for our children,’ Ballinascreen councillor Brian McGuigan has said.
Cllr McGuigan, whose motion opposing gold mining in the Sperrins was adopted by Mid Ulster Council, said Ireland attracts visitors from all over the world who want to sample its culture, hospitality and an unspoilt natural environment which very few countries can rival.
“Mid-Ulster Council and its predecessor councils have sought to tackle years of under-investment west of the Bann by developing the obvious tourism potential of the area with a particular focus on sustainable tourism and sporting activities such as cycling etc.,” he said. “The new Dark Sky Observatory and Visitor Centre when it opens at Davagh will be reflective of that approach, where the natural environment can clearly complement and enhance the potential of the area to attract much needed income from visitors to the area.
“Since its inception, Mid-Ulster Council has worked closely with stakeholders such as Invest NI to create an environment which can attract international investment into the area to broaden the local economic base and to complement the extensive growth in recent years in small indigenous companies. It is clear that this approach is paying dividends.
“Mid-Ulster Council area has had the highest economic activity rate and the highest employment rate across all eleven councils in the north. That ‘open for business’ approach is why we examine every proposal which could help to sustain economic growth, particularly in light of the difficulties which Brexit can be expected to present for local companies seeking to grow their export business.
“But we need to be clear – Sinn Féin want to see the development of an economy which will serve our people, one which is consistent with the preservation of our local rural communities and one which enhances and supports the natural environment. This area is blessed with natural resources, which should be used sustainably for the good of all the people in the area and for the benefit of future generations.”
Cllr McGuigan said the planning proposal which mining firm Dalradian have submitted for gold extraction seeks to exploit those resources, “for the benefit of foreign investors and large shareholders”.