Bid to reopen Gobbins in time for Easter hits the rocks as finish date is pushed back
The Gobbins coastal path will not reopen in time for the Easter holidays, it has been revealed.
The historic cliffside walk was closed on December 30, just months after it was launched, after storm damage and a landslip.
Almost 400 bookings for January and February had to be cancelled afterwards.
And it looks like more people will be left disappointed after the target date to reopen the attraction was pushed back to May.
East Antrim MLAs said they were disappointed and urged increased efforts to have the path up and running for summer.
But Mid and East Antrim Council, which runs the attraction, said the damage caused had been "unforeseeable".
The council is installing a new drainage system it hopes will ease any future problems. It said its main priority was the health and safety of visitors and staff and denied there was any issue with contractors over liability.
MLA Gordon Lyons said: "It is disappointing because the Gobbins is a major part of the east Antrim tourist offering. My understanding is it has taken longer than thought to open the attraction as a result of the installation of a drainage system.
"This is obviously taking some time, but if it more effectively deals with heavy rainfall and storms, it will be worth it.
"The key thing for the council is to ensure it is open as soon as possible so that it can make the most of the summer period."
Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson added: "From what I have been told, there were two very severe winter storms, and it is estimated that some 3,000 tonnes of rock and soil fell from above on to the path.
"It is very disappointing for visitors as well as locals and tourists coming into east Antrim this Easter. However, safety must come first, and regrettable as it is I do understand this decision."
The council said: "Landslips are common in the north Antrim coast area because of the geology.
"They are caused when a sloping area of soil becomes saturated by water and loses its internal cohesion and/or adherence to the underlying rock, which allows it to slide or slump.
"Work has commenced to put in place a new drainage system that will help manage this, and repairs of the main access pathways will commence as soon as possible."