THE TRIANGLE area is a “disappointment” and would not entice visitors to the area now or in the future without substantial investment, according to a former Coleraine mayor.
In a scathing attack, ex-UUP councillor and businesswoman, Pauline Armitage called on Coleraine Borough Council to use every tool at its disposal to save the borough from commercial oblivion.
In a letter to The Coleraine Times, the outspoken Unionist said she was delighted that the Irish Open golf tournament was coming to Royal Portrush this summer and praised the behind the scenes work done by golfers Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy.
“This is a major achievement and well done to our famous golfers. They will promote, encourage, market and ‘sell’ Northern Ireland in general and Portrush in particular,” she said
“Darren Clarke tells everybody that Royal Portrush is the best golf course in the world and if Darren Clarke says that - it must be true!
“However, I drove round the borough last week and Darren, Graeme and Rory all need total commitment from the Council and the powers-that-be to make this area a joy to visit.”
Whilst praising the North Coast for its “unforgettable scenery” and “friendly, helpful and happy” local population, Mrs. Armitage said her tour of the region highlighted the “disappointing state of our borough.”
Portstewart, she said, presented a tired image of boarded up shops, derelict hotels, empty houses and vacant B&Bs.
“Portstewart has not even got one hotel,” she says. “The remains of one of our hotels, The Strand, has been lying in a state of disrepair for over 25 years. If one wanted to play golf at Portstewart, take a stroll along the cliff path or go for a walk on the beach, you would have to pass this eyesore.”
Although soon to undergo a government funded refurbishment programme, Portrush is equally unimpressive, according to the retired politician.
She said: “Portrush is similar to Portstewart with buildings lying derelict and bed and breakfasts that haven’t seen a visitor for years.”
But it was for the borough capital of Coleraine that the former Mayor reserved her most stinging criticism.
“When I was mayor of the borough, I used to tell all our visitors to take their credit cards and head off to Coleraine and shop till they drop. The only drop now would be trying to find the shops.”
Mrs. Armitage also criticised the infrastructure which connects the North Coast to the Province’s airports, demanding that the road and rail links meet the needs of a modern, world-famous tourist area.
“I hope some day everyone will get together to ensure that aircraft will be arriving at Belfast International from all over the world.”
She stressed that Council should press “for a little more cash” from the Northern Ireland Assembly, Tourism Ireland, The European Parliament, The Honourable Irish Society and The Prince’s Trust, to name but a few.
“No stone should be left unturned by the Borough Council in acquiring vital inward investment,” she concluded.