Alliance Assembly Member Sean Neeson, Northern Ireland’s representative on the UK Historic Ships Committee, has expressed disgust that the Government has no policy on maritime heritage and has not even resolved which agency has responsibility for it.
Alderman Neeson stated: “The present dilemma over the purchase of the SS Nomadic has persisted because of the Government’s failure to clarify who is responsible for maritime heritage in Northern Ireland.
“As a result, a recent consultation document proposed to omit Northern Ireland from the National Historic Ships Unit. Only my personal intervention resolved this, but the basic problem still remains.
“Northern Ireland has two vessels on the core collection of historic ships, one built in Belfast and one in Carrickfergus. These two ships therefore appear on the same historic list as the Cutty Sark and the HMS Belfast.
“I was optimistic that the SS Nomadic would be added to this core collection and would provide a further boost to plans to celebrate Belfast’s Titanic link. There is no question her purchase would qualify for grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This would be a vital move in preserving our maritime and industrial heritage, for too long overlooked.
“But it can only happen if the Government resolves who will take responsibility.”