Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Sort out Titanic Belfast staircase row, minister orders chiefs

Stepping in: Arlene Foster is demanding an end to the 'distracting' row over the replica Grand Staircase in the Titanic building
Stepping in: Arlene Foster is demanding an end to the 'distracting' row over the replica Grand Staircase in the Titanic building

Tourism minister Arlene Foster has said Titanic Belfast bosses need to find a way to accommodate visitors wanting to see the replica Grand Staircase.

She said the row over access to the replica staircase is taking away from the impact of the whole centre.

“As far as I’m concerned it was becoming a distraction.

“It might mean more staff and health and safety but still we need to accommodate visitors.”

The comments regarding the well-documented and controversial staircase came as Titanic Belfast announced two dates next month when visitors will be allowed to view it.

So far the general public has been denied access to the famous replica of the stairs onboard the ill-fated liner.

In what Titanic Belfast has said is an “interim measure”, groups limited to six people can request ‘Staircase Sunday’ access through its website.

But visitors to the centre will still not be allowed to walk on the staircase and instead will be limited to posing for pictures.

The furore surrounding what is only one small part of the £97m jewel in Northern Ireland’s tourism crown has been called “an irrelevance”, which renowned travel writer Simon Calder believes isn’t worth seeing.

“I would not lose any sleep over it,” he added. “There is much to be appreciated in Belfast in 2012 and I would put the staircase at the foot of my list.”

But according to the great grandfather of one of those behind the great ship’s construction “a way needs to be found to allow all of us to gaze on this masterpiece within a masterpiece”.

David Heyburn made his appeal in a letter to the Belfast Telegraph.

A spokesman for Titanic Belfast said the centre was “reviewing options” regarding the “logistical difficulty of managing the needs of visitors”.

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