Monday, 28 April 2014

Dunluce Castle - Ringing the Changes

Thursday 1 May - 2 pm and 7 pm
Mill Rest Hostel,  Bushmills

Saturday 3 May - Free Admission
Dunluce Castle

According to Trip Advisor, the Dunluce Castle experience is highly regarded by visitors yet, in a recent question and answer session in the Northern Ireland Assembly, all is not well - as indicated by the reported drop in visitor numbers. Perhaps visitors to the Causeway Coast and Glens, on a restricted budget and in an age of austerity, are forced to make a choice between the various heritage attractions.

The castle is managed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, an agency of the Department of the Environment: 

Open meetings of the NIEA Board give the public an opportunity to see clearly how the Agency operates. The Board holds meetings in public and publishes Board meeting agendas, papers and decisions.

This quote is taken from a webpage that was last updated on 22 December 2011 and the dates listed are for 2012. Details on agendas, minutes and papers are given on a linked webpage:

The agenda for all Agency Board meetings will be posted to this page on NIEA’s website approximately one week before every Board meeting. All papers for the open sessions of the Agency Board meeting will be posted here or can be obtained on request from the Board secretariat.

This webpage was last updated on 16 May 2013 and the most recent posted minutes are for March 2013. These minutes contain very little of substance with regard to Dunluce:

Stephen advised that he and the Chair need to confirm the responsibility of the Dunluce ‘champion’ with Michael Coulter. 

There's also a stakeholders' group which, presumably, also could publish agendas, minutes and papers on-line:

Minister Mark Durkan: I assure him that a stakeholder group has been established, which consists of NIEA — naturally — the neighbouring landowners and other agencies, such as the Tourist Board, with an interest in the development of the site. [source]

Why aren't interested members of the public being kept fully informed about the work of the NIEA, including progress on the Dunluce Project? Has the Office of the Information Commissioner not been monitoring the performance of the NIEA as would be expected in its role as guardian of Model Publication Schemes? Would that not be good practice?

Details of a rival private heritage project [pdf file] are currently being considered by the Planning Service [C/2012/0158/F].

If you want to find out more about the NIEA's Dunluce Project, please go along to one or other of the meetings in the Mill Rest Hostel on Thursday 1 May and put your queries, concerns and/or suggestions to the NIEA team.


Belated promotion by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board on behalf of NIEA as well as by NIEA itself.