Belfast Telegraph

Plan to reopen Scrabo Tower to visitors put on hold

By Brett Campbell

Scrabo Tower in Newtownards will remain closed for the foreseeable future after plans to reopen the famous visitor attraction were unexpectedly cancelled.

The tower closed its doors to the public in 2014 over health and safety fears, but following repairs and a successful trial last year, the monument had been due to reopen tomorrow.

However, the Department for Communities announced on Twitter yesterday that "due to unforeseen circumstances" the landmark would not open as planned.

It gave no further information on why, but simply added: "More info will follow soon."

Discover Northern Ireland's website states that the tower will be open between 10am and 4pm each Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer, but the Department for Communities was unable to say when the timetable will begin.

The department told the Belfast Telegraph that a number of tasks had already been carried out to prepare 160-year-old structure for public access, but more time was required.

"Completing the final pre-opening tasks has taken a little longer than initially anticipated, but we expect to have further information on an opening date next week," it added.

Strangford MP Jim Shannon criticised the uncertainty and said many people would feel let down by the postponement.

He said: "This is incredibly disappointing.

"For anyone who is blessed enough to live in and around the Ards peninsula, the sight of Scrabo evokes a feeling of being home and this wonderful attraction has been synonymous with Ards since it was built in 1857.

"I understand that work needs to be done, but there has been ample time to do this. The longer it remains closed the more people will be disappointed when they trek up to the tower only to be turned away by a locked door. It really is unacceptable."

The surrounding Scrabo Country Park attracts around 200,000 visitors each year.

Last week the planned reopening of Greencastle Royal Castle on June 24 was also postponed indefinitely.

The Department for Communities confirmed the medieval site near Newry, located on the banks of Carlingford Lough, will open to the public from this Saturday until September 17.

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