Belfast Telegraph

Exploris aquarium supporters to address Ards Borough councillors

By Rebecca Black

Exploris aquarium supporters will appear before Ards Borough Council's development committee to plead for its survival.

In September the committee voted to allow two months to seek funding for the Portaferry tourist attraction and to close and sell it if no funding could be found.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has pledged to save its seal sanctuary but the future appears bleak for the aquarium.

Members of the Conservative Party in Strangford and Save Exploris working group Johnny Andrews and Bill McKendry said the aquarium was a "great asset to the area", contributing around £3m to the local economy each year.

They have suggested a public/ private partnership to save it.

Mr Andrews said: "We need a little pragmatism and we need the focus to be on jobs and the services Exploris provides."

Deputy mayor Philip Smith told the Belfast Telegraph that although the council voted in September to close Exploris if funding could not be found in two months, it will remain open until March.

The development committee only makes recommendations which will be voted on at the next full council meeting scheduled for tomorrow week.

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