Belfast Telegraph

Facelift planned for derelict sites

Derelict sites and empty shops are to be given a major facelift ahead of the Irish Open golf tournament, the Environment Minister has announced.

Mark H Durkan said his department would contribute £21,500 to improve the appearance of dilapidated properties in towns near the Royal County Down golf course.

Ealier this month, the Department for Social Development also pledged £21,500 pledge to help deal with dereliction in Newcastle town centre.

Mr Durkan said: "I have today approved funding of £21,500, to help Newry, Mourne and Down Council to spruce up the appearance of derelict buildings and sites within Ballynahinch, Saintfield, Annalong and Kilkeel in preparation for the Irish Open.

"The Open provides us with a wonderful opportunity to promote Northern Ireland and encourage tourism and strengthen our local economy.

"In anticipation of the many visitors and tourists expected it is important that we do our best to create a welcoming and attractive atmosphere.

"Local people and future visitors will also benefit from the improvement of the area, which will last beyond the event itself."

Some of golf's biggest names including Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia have signed up for the competition which starts on May 28.

When the Irish Open was held on the north coast in 2012, around £400,000 was spent improving run-down sites in the seaside resorts of Portrush and neighbouring Portstewart.

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