Belfast Telegraph

Ballycastle's razor-wired pier is like a Soviet gulag

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

It is one of Northern Ireland’s busiest harbours. But complaints that Ballycastle seafront looks more like a Soviet gulag than a welcoming tourist resort have been increasing.

And now an online petition has been set up calling for a reduction in the amount of fencing and wire around the harbour.

SDLP councillor in Ballycastle, Donal Cunningham, who is leading the campaign, said the amount of of razor wire and fencing was unacceptable.

“I accept that there is a need for a level of security, but I question the need for high fencing and razor wire,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“The high fencing in place along the main jetty area is extreme, unsightly and unwelcoming for the increasing numbers of Ballycastle’s tourists, residents and ferry passengers.

“The harbour area was once a pleasant and open area enjoyed by many. If the security concerns are no longer pertinent, then removal of this unnecessary fencing would be in keeping with other recent harbour and seafront improvements.”

One Rathlin boatman, who declined to be named, said: “In Ballycastle we have been left with a harbour complex that was originally designed to house the Campbeltown-Ballycastle ferry service.

“That service has long gone but we have been left with its rusting razor wire, locked gates and an appearance that resembles a Soviet gulag. This fencing and Moyle Council’s enforcement of locking gates of a publicly funded facility is another restriction of our rights as islanders to access the mainland when we want and need.

“Not only does it stop us as islanders from rightly using this public facility but also the entire district of Moyle should have the right to access their local harbour as freely as in Portrush, Greencastle or Campbeltown.

“The current charade of locked gates that people have to climb over is just that, with no reason for their continued |existence. Another buzz word we hear from council is ‘tourism’. These rusting fences, locked gates and empty piers are a serious detriment to tourism in our area.”

A spokesman for the Rathlin Island Community Development Association said: “The harbour area used to be a pleasant and open area enjoyed by many, as are many of the other ports along our Causeway Coastal Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The ferry terminal, car park and ferry berth are currently in use, though not as intensively as planned given the absence of the Campbeltown service as originally intended.”

It is understood a report being considered by senior staff within Moyle Council has recommended a reduction of fencing, particularly around the main jetty and old pier.

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