Donegal County Council has formally launched the Sliabh Liag Strategic Development Plan which has received support under Failte Ireland’s Tourism Capital Infrastructure Programme funded under the NDP 2007-13 and the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme at a major tourism event in Teelin, South West Donegal on Friday afternoon.
The Sliabh Liag Development plan involves a unique cross-border, multi-agency partnership with funding coming from a variety of sources.
Mayor of County Donegal, Cllr. Cora Harvey kicked off the launch by thanking, in particular, all of the local residents, landowners and community groups involved in the Sliabh Liag Strategic Development Plan as well as Donegal County Development Partners, Donegal County Council, Failte Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltacta and National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Commenting on the launch of the plan, Cllr. Harvey said:
“We are very lucky to have such a breathtaking visitor attraction on our doorstep. A key aim of this plan is to encourage visitors to stay longer at Sliabh Liag and the surrounding areas; spend more money in the local shops, pubs and restaurants; and to do all this while respecting the rights of local people, landowners and communities. It is my hope that this will all have a positive effect on the economic, cultural and social fabric of the South West area of the County”.
An Tánaiste & Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan, TD., announced investment in excess of €2.7 million under Failte Ireland’s Tourism Capital Infrastructure Programme funded through the NDP 2007-2013.
Welcoming the investment, An Tánaiste said: “This strategic plan, which I am extremely proud to launch, recognises that there is potential to increase the number of people staying longer in South West Donegal. In addition to developing joint marketing approaches between Gobbins in County Antrim and Sliabh Liag, it also targets an increase of 90,000 visitors to both locations. Only last July, we secured almost €2million to promote and develop this majestic tourist attraction.
“Substantial improvements have been made in terms of local infrastructure. This plan is a further welcome boost to Sliabh Liag and the tourism product in Donegal South West and will continue to create awareness of the wonderful natural beauty of this area. Further funding will be specifically directed at the provision of a visitor amenity centre, a viewing platform, car-park and road access improvements as well as interpretation and signage information which will all prove to be valuable and vital additions to the Sliabh Liag experience and result in an increase in visitor numbers.”
Speaking at the launch, Paul McLoone, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Operations in the North West said –
“Fáilte Ireland is delighted to be able to provide such a significant amount of funding to such a worthy project in the North West region. We, as a tourism authority, are working hard to drive visitor numbers to this region and development such as this go a long way in helping to get the message across that Donegal and the wider region have a lot to offer both domestic and international visitors.”
Mr McLoone was also keen to stress that this project is very much community driven with a range of partners involved –
“Over the last few years, we have been working closely with Donegal County Council to ensure this project came to fruition. However, it would not have been possible without the co-operation of the local community along with the National Parks and Wildlife as well as Udaras na Gaeltachta.”
The Sliabh Liag Strategic Development Plan is further supported through an investment of €1.7 million (£1.5 million) which is part financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Cross-border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. The INTERREG IVA Sliabh Liag-Gobbins project is a unique collaboration between Donegal County Council and Larne Borough Council, led by the North East Partnership. Welcoming the investment, Howard Keery, director of the joint technical secretariat within the Special EU Programmes Body said:
“This multi-million euro project provides an excellent fit with the objectives of the INTERREG IVA Programme to support the development of two flagship coastal attractions based in Counties Donegal and Antrim. This will provide a welcome addition to the overall tourism product offer in the Border Region of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will contribute to further developing the industry in the region.”
Pat Mulvenna, Manager of the North East Partnership commented:
“As Manager of the North East Partnership I am delighted that through North East Councils working together in the North East Partnership, and in co-operation with Donegal County Council we have secured such a large amount of funding to realise this project, which will deliver significant economic benefits to our area and Donegal. Our thanks go to the project promoters, our colleagues in Donegal and Larne, NEP Officials and of course SEUPB.”
The Sliabh League Strategic Development plan aims to capitalise on the 100,000 plus tourists who already visit Ireland’s highest sea cliffs annually, through the implementation of a sustainable visitor management strategy. The plan sets out a strategy for development involving a wide-ranging number of actions:
Improvements in road access to cater for coach operators and increased tourism traffic from Carrick to Bunglas (Cliffs).
- Implementation of a Visitor Management Plan between Teelin and Bunglas (Cliffs).
- Construction of a Sliabh Liag Visitor Hub at Teelin.
- Introduction of a Sliabh Liag transport orientated tour experience from visitor hub to Bunglas (Cliffs).
- Employment of locally based guides, rangers and visitor orientation staff through the establishment of the community-management company.
Commenting on the plan, Seamus Neely, County Manager, Donegal County Council said:
“The development of Sliabh Liag as a world-class visitor attraction is a key project amongst Donegal County Development Board’s strategic tourism development programme. It is my belief that with local landowners, residents and community groups at the heart of this development, there is the potential to achieve the delivery of a truly sustainable tourism product. Central to the Sliabh Liag Development plan are a number of important objectives: we need to ensure that the needs of the community, landowners and residents are met; this needs to be done in a manner that protects and promotes the environmental sensitivity of the area; and finally in a way that creates indigenous jobs and promotes entrepreneurship and enterprise”.
The County Manager also outlined a number of planned landowner, resident and community group focussed consultative workshops that will happen throughout the year involving all Donegal County Development Board partners.