Cruising into troubled waters

By Peter Winter

Reporter:

By Peter Winter

Email:

peter.winter@thechronicle.uk.com

Portrush could loose lucrative cruise ship trade if the council fails to develop alternative harbour facilities in the resort.

Last year passengers from half the ships scheduled to visit were unable to disembark because of adverse sea conditions.

A warning that cruise ship companies are in future likely to steer clear of the North Coast in favour of facilities planned for Greencastle in Lough Foyle, comes from a charity eager to revive the historic harbour at Portandhu on the more sheltered eastern side of Ramore Head.

However, Portrush Building Preservation Trust fears the site's maritime heritage, and the chance to reinstate the harbour, have been overlooked.

That's because the council has plans to convert a 100-year-old lifeboat station at the centre of the site into a restaurant and lease it to the highest bidder.

In addition, as reported by the Chronicle last year, the council is already considering handing over Magilligan quay to Londonderry Harbour Commission - the body behind ambitious multi-million pound plans for a cruise ship terminal in Lough Foyle.

The proposal aims to provide easy passenger access to Donegal using Greencastle's harbour and the Causeway Coast via Magilligan.

According to the Building Preservation Trust, developing Portandu would address issues hindering Portrush's ability to compete with a future rival terminal in Lough Foyle.

“We have in the East Bay the Skerry Roadstead which has been used as a safe anchorage by shipping since Medieval Times,” said a spokesperson.

“Pilgrims left these shores in the early 18th century to board ships anchored in these waters.

“It is the only sheltered waters along this stretch of the Northern Ireland coast, it is totally underutilised and a natural anchorage for cruise ships," they said.

*For the full story see this week's Coleraine Chronicle.

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