Chairperson of Mourne AONB Residents’ Action Group joins Mourne National Park debate
Valerie Hanna, the Chairperson of Mourne AONB Residents’ Action Group wrote the following in response to Newry Times Columnist Sarah Colgan’s article: No nay never, no more! Why it’s time for the Mourne to start saying yes…
I wish to respond to the National Park article inserted by Sarah Colgan.
Ms Colgan said: “I believe that the proposal of a National Park is a key opportunity for us to take ownership of the Mourne area”. Perhaps Ms Colgan is unaware that every inch of the Mourne AONB is already owned and managed by someone. Is she joining the ranks of those who wish to do a communist-style take-over and force the owners to relinquish their right to carry on their businesses as they deem suitable for them? May I remind Ms Colgan of her Irish history when our forefathers fought long and hard before being able to buy our land from the landlords under the Irish Land Act. We are most certainly not going back to a new style landlord in the guise of a National Park Authority.
We take issue with Ms Colgan’s condescending accusation of a knee-jerk reaction. Our group has spent years and made many journeys to study other National Parks and have been made aware of their drawbacks. I wonder what research she has done. Perhaps she should talk to the farmers of the Brecon Beacons who, after 50 years in a National Park are now finding they may have to sell up and leave the land they have owned and farmed all their lives.
A Professor of Tourism with Colorado University told me that we could not live and continue to work under the auspices of a National Park. He said the first generation might survive but subsequent generations would not. This is now happening in the Brecon Beacons.
We are fighting this for our children and grandchildren. We want to leave them with a legacy, not a hangman’s noose.
Chairperson, Mourne AONB Residents’ Action Group
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