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'UNESCO didn't approve plans'

By David Gordon

Published 24/10/2007

Seymour Sweeney has retracted a past claim that his plans for a Causeway visitor centre had the approval of world heritage body UNESCO.

The businessman said during a press conference yesterday: "It is very important to clear this up. I have never said that we had UNESCO approval for the scheme."

After the conference, the Belfast Telegraph showed Mr Sweeney a statement issued by his company Seaport in 2002.

It said: "At a meeting with senior UNESCO personnel in Paris in September 2001, Seaport Investment representatives received wholehearted approval for its proposal for a world class visitor centre which was submitted to Moyle District Council the following month."

Mr Sweeney yesterday commented: "You can put that to me and if I said that, that's fine, but it's not correct. I'm happy to retract that."

UNESCO - the United Nations body responsible for world heritage sites - has denied giving any approval to the businessman's plans.

It has emphasised that it only deals with governments and not private developers.

Mr Sweeney said yesterday that his 2001 Paris meeting with UNESCO officials was positive, and that they saw "merit" in his proposals.

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