Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

McGuinness and Bell open ‘Amazing Grace’ viewing platform in Buncrana

Stormont Executive press release - Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MLA, and Junior Minister Jonathan Bell, MLA today opened the ‘Amazing Grace’ viewing platform in Buncrana, County Donegal.

The viewing point has been created, beside the old pier in Buncrana, as part of the ‘Amazing Grace Heritage Experience’. John Newton was inspired to write ‘Amazing Grace’ after he had taken refuge, in Lough Swilly, from a violent storm in the Atlantic Ocean in 1748.

Speaking at the opening the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “As one of the world’s best known hymns, ‘Amazing Grace’ has world-wide appeal that will draw people to this beautiful part of Ireland, where John Newton started his spiritual journey.

“Opening the viewing point today reminds us that history is part of our past but it also shapes and helps to build our future. All those involved in the ‘Amazing Grace’ Initiative are to be congratulated for their vision in bringing together different religious, social, cultural and economic interests for the benefit of the whole community.

“Derry’s City of Culture programme, which included the first Amazing Grace Festival, has attracted thousands of international visitors. I hope we can work in partnership to continue to encourage more visitors to the North West and deliver wide-ranging benefits for tourists and local people.”

Junior Minister Jonathan Bell said: "John Newton’s life story is one of a remarkable journey. From his dark days of transporting slaves from Africa to the Caribbean, to becoming one of the most famous hymn writers in history. It is extraordinary to think that John Newton’s safe delivery to these shores at Buncrana on that fateful night of 8 April 1748 inspired him to write one of the most well known and best loved hymns in the world. 

“I am delighted to see the Amazing Grace Heritage Experience taking shape. The Amazing Grace Festival, the opening of this viewing platform and further planned developments will give visitors to the North West area a special reason to pause awhile and reflect on the work and life of a spiritual giant whose special ‘Song of Praise’ continues to lift hearts around the world.

“I commend Buncrana Town Council and the Amazing Grace Initiative for the inspired approach that has brought this initiative to life. I have every confidence that it will be blessed with success.”

For more information on the Amazing Grace initiative go to: http://www.AmazingGrace.ie 

Note to editors:

1 The Amazing Grace Initiative is a joint project of Buncrana Town Council together with local businesses and community groups, which is supported by West Inishowen History and Heritage and endorsed by The John Newton Project in the UK. 

2. The new viewing point is part of an on-going plan to create an Amazing Grace experience for visitors to the region. Work is set to start on a new park in the near future. Both of these projects are being funded by Inishowen Development Partnership.