Executive committed to taking action to protect Lough Neagh

Date published: 27 March 2024

The protection of Lough Neagh and the surrounding environment is a key priority for the Executive, First Minister Michelle O’Neill and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly have said.

First Minister Michelle O’Neill, deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly and Andrew Muir DAERA Minister pictured at Lough Neagh.
First Minister Michelle O’Neill, deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly and Andrew Muir DAERA Minister pictured at Lough Neagh.

Speaking after meeting with the Lough Neagh Partnership in Toome today, the First Minister and deputy First Minister gave an assurance that the Executive is committed to taking the necessary action to protect and better manage one of our most important natural resources.

First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:

“We are so lucky to have Lough Neagh on our doorstep. It has enormous beauty and so much potential. It provides so much of our drinking water and is vital for the fishing, leisure and tourism industries.

“But, we have heard about the issues facing the Lough. We must do everything we can to protect it. I am glad that coordinated efforts are under way to tackle problems, such as the blue green algae, which is understandably a cause of serious concern.

“Lough Neagh is at the heart of all the communities who live close to its shores. Along with my Executive colleagues, I am committed to working to keep the Lough safe and sustainable for future generations.”

Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said:

“I welcomed the opportunity to meet with everyone and to hear their long-term vision for the Lough and how they can contribute to better protecting and managing it in the future.

“Lough Neagh is one of our most important natural resources. It is not only hugely important from an environmental and wildlife perspective, but also in terms of our water supply, for those who use it for recreation and the local economy based on and around the Lough.

“The problems at Lough Neagh are complex and there will be no quick fixes, but myself and my Executive colleagues are absolutely committed to taking the necessary action to ensure that we improve the health of the Lough and get the balance right between growing our local economy while safeguarding our precious natural environment.”

The First Minister and deputy First Minister were joined at the meeting by the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir.

Minister Muir said:

“I am pleased to see the First Minister and deputy First Minister visit Lough Neagh today to hear about the issues facing our most important waterway. The scenes witnessed in 2023 are likely to reappear this year, indeed a number of reports of blue green algae blooms have already been received thus far.

“We are united in our determination to provide the leadership needed to address the issues in waterways across Northern Ireland, including Lough Neagh. I have been clear that collective action and investment across government, private and public sector and in the community is needed.

“The starting point for Lough Neagh is the Environment Strategy and Northern Ireland’s first Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) which will significantly improve our natural environment and set the direction of travel for the coming decades, to improve water quality, including at Lough Neagh.

“I look forward to working alongside my Executive colleagues to agree the EIP and then I will present a further and more specific Lough Neagh paper.”

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