Portaferry hotel forced to close this week 'will reopen soon'
The landlord of a Northern Ireland hotel that closed its doors this week has said it will reopen.
The Portaferry Hotel shut to customers on Monday after tenant William McAleese said it was losing money.
Its sudden closure came just days before a local couple were due to host their wedding reception there.
But, luckily for bride-to-be Leonie Kelly (27) and her 33-year-old fiancé Neil McCluskey, the Stormont Hotel in east Belfast stepped in at the eleventh hour to offer them an alternative venue for today's celebrations.
In a statement released on Monday, Beannchor, the group that owns the building, said the Portaferry Hotel "has regrettably been forced to close until further notice".
But after a meeting with Portaferry Regeneration, the hotel landlord said yesterday that it hoped to reopen as soon as possible.
"During the meeting Beannchor reaffirmed their commitment to The Portaferry Hotel and their desire to see it open again as soon as possible," a statement from the landlord said.
"However, there are a number of legal and accounting matters that must be addressed, as a result of the departure of the tenant, before a formal resolution can be found."
Portaferry Regeneration chairman John Dumigan said it was a positive meeting aimed at finding a solution that will allow the business to reopen.
He added: "The Portaferry Hotel is a critical contributor to the local economy, attracting and catering for visitors and tourists in the area."
Alison Millar, deputy general secretary of Nipsa, said it was "regrettable" that almost 30 staff had lost their jobs with no notice.
"The primary reason given by the hoteliers is that the temporary closure of Exploris (aquarium)has had a devastating impact on the small town of Portaferry and the closure of the hotel is directly linked to the lack of tourists now visiting this facility," she said.
Ms Millar said that NIPSA was heavily involved in the campaign to keep Exploris open and that at a public meeting held at the hotel in September 2013 "a number of local business people who supported the campaign feared for their future livelihoods if Exploris closed".
"Unfortunately this has now come to fruition and there are now many more local people who have been thrown on to the dole queue with little prospect of getting further work in the town." She added: "Nipsa will be working with Unite, who were very supportive of the campaign to keep Exploris open, to see what can be done to both save the jobs of the staff who worked in the Portaferry Hotel and work to get Exploris open again in a timely fashion."
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday, Martha Tumelty (38), Portaferry Hotel manageress for over 10 years, said she hoped to take over the premises.
"I would go into immediate negotiations to open this hotel again or, if they would give me the keys, I could have this hotel up and running in a couple of hours," she said.