| 2.8°C Belfast

Sammy Wilson defends Portrush visit after day trippers head to the coast despite lockdown

Close

People on the streets of Portstewart at the weekend

People on the streets of Portstewart at the weekend

People on the streets of Portstewart at the weekend

People on the streets of Portstewart at the weekend

/

People on the streets of Portstewart at the weekend

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has defended a trip to Portrush at the weekend after returning home from London.

It comes amid anger after day trippers flocked to the scenic Causeway Coast at the weekend despite lockdown rules discouraging non-essential travel.

On Saturday a Twitter user said they had walked past the East Antrim MP while on Portrush East Strand and questioned if he should be isolating after returning from his work as an MP in London.

London is currently under the UK Government's Tier 4 strictest coronavirus regulations preventing non-essential travel as a new strain of Covid-19 spreads across the UK and Ireland.

Non-essential travel is also discouraged as part of the Executive's six-week lockdown.

"Would be curious too to find out why he thought his trip to Portrush was essential," the Twitter user wrote.

Close

DUP's Sammy Wilson caught on camera without face mask on public transport

DUP's Sammy Wilson caught on camera without face mask on public transport

DUP's Sammy Wilson caught on camera without face mask on public transport

Responding Mr Wilson quoted from the regulations which state that "people who routinely cross the border for essential purposes are not subject to these requirements".

Mr Wilson has courted controversy throughout the pandemic by questioning the need for restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the virus. He has also been photographed on a number of occasions incorrectly or declining to wear a face covering.

Photographs from the weekend showed maskless visitors queued up outside takeaways as nose-to-tail traffic choked the famous promenade at Portstewart.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens council, Mark Fielding, said local residents were angry that crowds had descended on the seaside town.

"It looked almost like a normal weekend - but these are not normal times," he said.

There was little for visitors to do, Mr Fielding said.

"At the end of the day the shops aren't open. You'd wonder why there are so many people here," he added. "And they should definitely be wearing their masks.

"I think people would be better not travelling - they'd be better staying at home.

"The idea of the lockdown is to discourage people from travelling.

"I don't know where these people are all coming from but some of them must be coming from some distance, and that's what has annoyed local people."

UUP councillor Joan Baird agreed. "People are not taking this as seriously as they should be," she said, adding that Whitepark Bay and the Dark Hedges had also been crowded.

Alliance councillor Chris McCaw said there had been traffic issues at Portrush and Glenariff.

"In any other situation you love to see people coming to Portrush and Portstewart - but with everything that's going on, it 's very worrying - especially for people at risk," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


Privacy