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DUP leader urged council to reject developer's rival

By David Gordon

DUP leader Ian Paisley tried to persuade Moyle Council to back away from an alternative to tycoon Seymour Sweeney's centre proposal for the Giant's Causeway, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

The intervention by Dr Paisley (right) in 2005 could have scuppered the development of plans for a new publicly-funded visitor centre at the north coast attraction.

Moyle Council rejected his plea, but has recently seen the project shelved as a result of actions by DUP Ministers.

The council entered into a partnership in 2005 to deliver a replacement for the Causeway centre that had burned down five years earlier.

This scheme also involved the National Trust, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Department of Enterprise.

Mr Paisley, however, preferred an alternative commercial centre blueprint tabled by developer Seymour Sweeney, a DUP member.

In early 2005, the DUP leader issued a statement with his son Ian Paisley Jnr denouncing the Government-backed project as "fool's gold".

It has now been discovered that Mr Paisley followed up with a last-ditch appeal to Moyle Council in September 2005.

He wrote to the council the day it was due to sign up to the joint project, urging it not to take a decision.

A copy of the letter, which was faxed from Mr Paisley's office, has been obtained by this newspaper.

It claimed "hasty action" would damage ratepayers' interests and decisions should not be taken "without exploring all of the commercial, legal and professional options available".

Belfast Telegraph


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