Alliance call on Environment Minister to step in on Exploris row

The Alliance Party has taken its campaign to save the Exploris Aquarium to the Environment Minister, urging him to step in and save the Portaferry tourist favourite.

Kieran McCarthy MLA and Councillor Alan McDowell want Minister Durkan to intervene and freeze the decision made by Ards Borough Council this week, led by Unionist Councillors, and want to meet the Minister to discuss the issue at the first available opportunity.

Kieran McCarthy MLA said: “The people of the Ards Peninsula and across Northern Ireland are still trying to understand why Northern Ireland’s only aquarium has now been earmarked for closure. This will have a devastating impact on the community and questions must be answered.

“This decision was made without an equality impact screening or a public consultation taking place. The full financial details of the implications of closure were also not made available.

“The Environment Minister must step in and freeze the decision by the Council until the proper research can be carried out and a full discussion takes place.”

Councillor Alan McDowell added: “We want to see Minister Durkan assign a team of senior officials to make finding answers to the many unanswered questions around this decision a top priority.

“Each year tens of thousands of visitors come to Exploris, bringing vast economic benefits and 40 plus jobs to the local economy. This highlights the economic devastation that will be unleashed on the surrounding area if this reckless decision is allowed to go ahead.

“I hope we can meet with the Environment Minister at the first available opportunity to discuss this situation in greater detail. We won’t be backing down in our attempts to save Exploris.”

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