Northern Ireland

DUP reject ‘Ireland’s True Nature’ branding for Newry, Mourne and Down tourism plan

Vote on tourism plan passed at council meeting despite concerns

Newry NMDDC HQ Monaghan Row. Permission for all LDRS to publish.
Newry, Mourne and Down councillors have discussed a tourism plan for the area that aims to promote 'Ireland's True Nature'.

The DUP has “most strenuously” rejected a tourism branding of Newry, Mourne and Down as ‘Ireland’s True Nature’ over concerns the unionist community has been “ignored”.

The objections were raised as members of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council discussed its Tourism Strategy and Action Plan 2024-29.

The concerns were raised as the councils’ UNESCO Global Geopark of ‘Mourne Gullion Strangford’ is to be promoted on an international market.

Despite the opposition in chambers, the new tourism strategy was carried at the council’s Economy, Regeneration and Tourism Committee by a majority vote of 12 to 2.

Mournes DUP councillor Glyn Hanna said he felt his party’s concerns over the branding had been “ignored”.

“This strategy reflects very little on the whole community - we make 23% of the community and Ulster Scots is mentioned only twice as far as I can see,” he said.

“‘Ireland’s True Nature’ is not a title we can support. Where is Ireland’s true nature? It could be anywhere in Ireland, so we will not be supporting this most strenuously, and we will be bringing it up again in full council.”

The council had held a six-week public consultation on the draft tourism strategy last Autumn, with only 34 responses received, including two emails.

Meanwhile, Mournes Alliance councillor Jill Truesdale raised concerns that the rural area’s infrastructure could not cope with increased traffic and footfall.

“The number of responses to the consultation is really poor. We really need to work on how we get the consultations out to the public,” she said.

She added: “Many of the roads in the area are not built for the volume of traffic. Car parks can not be magically created, there is no land available.

However, Newry SDLP councillor Killian Feehan voiced his support for the strategy.

“I think what has been proposed here is excellent and I think the tone of the brand plugs in well to other destination marketing brands on the island,” he said.