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Fine Gael Cork East TD, David Stanton, yesterday received a positive response from the Minister of State for Tourism, Michael Ring TD, in relation to a number of proposals to develop and promote the Spike Island project in Cork, which Deputy Stanton raised in the Dáil this morning. It comes after the board of Fáilte Ireland approved a grant of €2.5 million to Cork County Council for the development of the Fortress Spike Island experience.

“The recent funding approved by Fáilte Ireland is fantastic news for this project, which has the potential to draw thousands of tourists to the Cork harbour area every year. I am very keen to ensure local and national authorities work together to maximise this potential, so I took the opportunity to raise a number of issues with Minister Ring today.

“In particular, Minister Ring has said he will ask Fáilte Ireland to discuss with Cork County Council the possibility of organising a series of events next year to highlight the centenary of the Great War, during which Spike Island acted as the headquarters for the South Irish Coast Defence. The commemoration of this historical event would be of major interest to British tourists in particular, and I am encouraged that Minister Ring will ask the two bodies to examine how this event can be maximised.

“Minister Ring also gave a very positive response to my suggestion that a national artillery and military display be developed on Spike Island. Minister Ring expressed his personal endorsement for the idea, which I believe would be a fitting tribute to the role played by the Defence Forces.

“Minister Ring correctly pointed out that the priority must be to get the Fortress Spike Island project built. I have a number of other ideas how it can be further developed, to maximise its tourism potential. I intend to pursue with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaelteacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD, the idea of constructing a national memorial in both Cork Harbour and Australia, as a commemoration to the thousands of people who were transported to Australia and New Zealand through Spike Island in the 1800s. This would allow us to develop a strong tourism link with this long haul market.

“Spike Island has the capacity to transform the tourism draw for Cork Harbour. I am very pleased that Minister Ring has responded so positively to my suggestions about further developing the project, and I intend to purpose these proposals further.”