A national heritage peatlands centre located in the Midlands region is an excellent opportunity for tourism and economic development in the area, Fine Gael representatives have said.
Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, TD for Offaly, and Longford Cathaoirleach Micheál Carrigy, are calling for the Government to look at the exciting development opportunity in the region for a National Peatlands Park.
Deputy Corcoran Kennedy said, “With the Midlands transitioning away from peat and the sea-change this will bring to counties including Offaly we must ensure every possible avenue is being explored in relation to driving economic growth in new ways.
“A national peatlands park is a perfect example of a way in which we can celebrate our natural heritage and could act as a tourist attraction that I believe would bring in visitors both domestic and international.
“Jobs would be created both directly and indirectly as a result of such a development.
“I have raised this with my colleague the Minister for Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, who confirmed to me that as part of the National Peatlands Strategy, an examination of potential and existing visitor facilities was carried out in 2017.
“Given the acceleration of the transition away from peat in the Midlands, I believe this issue should be pursued on an accelerated timeline also,” Deputy Corcoran Kennedy added.
Cllr Micheál Carrigy, who is contesting for a Dáil seat in the Longford Westmeath constituency in the upcoming General Election, said such a peatlands park would be a major boost for the area.
“Creating a unique visitor centre in the Midlands region including a visitor’s centre, historical exhibits and walkways would help bring the history of the region to life as well as breathing new life into the tourism sector in the area.
“We must have a just transition here in the Midlands and this will only come about if we pursue every possible means of creating new opportunities and stimulating jobs growth.
“There are prime locations available across the region for a National Peatlands Park and I would echo Deputy Corcoran Kennedy’s call for this to be fast-tracked.
“Here in Longford we have seen investment in a number of important tourism projects recently including Centreparcs and the funding of the Norman Heritage Park in Granard.
“The value to an area from such attractions is multifaceted and we should be doing all we can to ensure that we are maximising all of the opportunities we have locally,” Cllr Carrigy added.