The Duke of Kent was on hand to officially re-open the facility, which has recorded 150,000 visitors over the past 11 months, despite a turbulent few years which almost saw the popular tourist attraction close its doors for good.
“It’s fantastic to see Exploris thriving and is a real testament to the drive of local people who could see the potential for the facility,” Lorna said, adding: “Over the course of the past few years Alliance has worked hard to aid Friends of Exploris who deserve congratulations for driving forward plans for the centre and never giving up on the site achieving its full potential.
“Together we have proved everyone wrong. Portaferry is thriving. The hotel is back up and running and the threat that was previously hanging over the future of the ferry has gone. It’s fantastic to see and feel such a great atmosphere around the area, especially with the 50th anniversary of the Portaferry Gala. None of this would have been possible without Exploris.
“Particular thanks must also go to the Crumlin Road Gael management team who have been instrumental is getting Exploris up and running again, along with all my Alliance colleagues who have worked tirelessly over the past few years to make this a reality.
“Exploris is a success story like no other and is a real testament to people power. It was especially good to see those who had written it off in the past – including the DUP Councillors present today – able to come along today and witness just how wrong they had been.”