Belfast Telegraph

Pub jobs dependent on bank backing

By Nevin Farrell

A £1.2m extension scheme bringing 25 new jobs to one of Northern Ireland's most historic pubs will not be able to proceed unless banks back the business, the owner says.

Vincent Hurl (44) runs the Crosskeys Inn in Co Antrim - the oldest thatched-roof pub in Ireland - and he has again secured planning permission to build seven en suite bedrooms, a function room and catering facilities.

He said the plan previously fell through when banks wouldn't stump up loans even though other public bodies were prepared to back the scheme financially.

But now he has obtained updated planning permission.

Mr Hurl said the pub regularly features in Tourism Ireland campaigns across the world and recently has featured in a new campaign throughout Europe highlighting the area once again to potential tourists.

Mr Hurl says his development plans will provide a huge boost to the economy of the rural area on the shores of Lough Neagh near Toomebridge but will rely on the banks backing the project.

Mr Hurl said: "There is very big interest in this project and there has been over the years.

"I have been working on the project since 2004 and it has been supported by the local council and had secured funding in the past from Invest NI and the Rural Development Programme only for the funding to be lost due to lack of financial support from local banks.

"What I think needs to be brought to the forefront regarding development projects is the lack of finance and backing from the banks to help the rural tourism economy, a very important part of our tourism offering, to grow."

Belfast Telegraph