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We'd love David Cameron to be our guest, say Rathlin Islanders

By Staff Reporter

Published 28/01/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

Rathlin Islanders have said they would welcome Prime Minister David Cameron with open arms if he decided to visit.

The words of welcome, from the owners of two guest houses, follow a quip by Mr Cameron in the House of Commons that if he did visit the tiny island, many would hope he would stay there forever.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, North Antrim MP Mr Paisley told Mr Cameron: "Rathlin Island is the only inhabited coastal village/town in my constituency. No British Prime Minister has ever had the honour to visit that part of Ulster.

"I wonder when the Prime Minister plans to visit this remote location, which has considerable economic needs and could generate more employment and tourism."

Mr Cameron noted he would keep the offer in mind when he next visits the province.

"I'm the first British Prime Minister to visit many parts of our country - the first to go to Shetland for about 30 years," he said.

"But I fear if I went to this island there might be a number of people who'd like me to stay there. I'll certainly bear it in mind the next time I visit the province."

Alan Curry, who owns Arkell House B&B in Church Bay, said he and his wife Hilary would love the PM to visit.

"As the top-rated place to stay on Tripadvisor, we would be delighted to see David Cameron on the island and for him to see self-made entrepreneurs who have made a success of a business without any public funding or grant assistance," said Mr Curry.

Mr Cameron would hope any visit would go more smoothly than a previous official trip. In 2010, the NIO was left red-faced when the Earl and Countess of Wessex were barred from eating at the Manor House, a National Trust property of which the Earl's brother Prince Charles is patron.

On the first official royal visit to the island, they made do with a hastily rearranged pub lunch at the nearby Bruce's Kitchen. Local representatives said it was "an embarrassment" for the island.

Damien McFaul, who ran the Manor House at the time, blamed a lack of information from the NIO for the mix-up.

Coolnagrock B&B owner, Margaret McQuilkin, said: "We would like to see anybody come to Rathlin, be they the Prime Minister or whoever."

"If he comes I'll even give him a good rate," she quipped.

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