New recreation and tourism opportunities will be investigated as part of a cross-border initiative involving three councils in the border region.
Last year, more than €4.3 million from the Shared Island Fund was allocated to 15 lead local authorities in the South, working in partnership with nine councils in Northern Ireland to develop feasibility studies supporting collaborative cross-border investment projects.
Monaghan County Council partnered together with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council to scope the development of a number of inter-connected tourism and outdoor recreation initiatives to build upon the existing services and facilities in the Sliabh Beagh area.
The project which is being led by Monaghan County Council has been awarded €145,475.
Sliabh Beagh is a protected upland area with heritage and conservation status, which covers parts of Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Monaghan.
Last month, the project took a significant step forward when Outdoor Recreation NI (ORNI) were appointed as consultants for the feasibility study.
This study will look at developing walking, cycling and equestrian activity in the area, as well as signage and public art.
ORNI will also investigate the accommodation and ancillary services needs of the region.
Monaghan Councillor Cathy Bennett who is Chair of the Sliabh Beagh Partnership said: “I am delighted to see the Sliabh Beagh Masterplan being progressed. This is a project that I have been involved in since 2012 when I was elected on to Monaghan County Council.
“I had a vision for the area, and this is now coming to fruition after many years. I would like to thank everyone who has been on this journey but especially Dympna Condra, Donal McElwain and the community in Monaghan who have been a guiding light in getting the Masterplan to this stage.
“I look forward to the years ahead and the implementation of the Masterplan which will support the development of Sliabh Beagh across the three council areas.”
Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Barry McElduff added: “The Council is delighted to be a partner in the Sliabh Beagh project as it will bring much needed economic benefits to the Fermanagh, Tyrone and Monaghan area.
“This collaboration will support a shared vision for a sustainable tourism destination of choice, not just locally but regionally. It is heartening to see a project like this being progressed with the potential to bring strong socio-economic benefits for local communities north and south while making it an attractive place to live, work and visit.”
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Córa Corry said, “This is a significant project in an area that has great conservation and heritage value, and it is great to see an initiative like this, which can help to develop tourism and recreation in the area.
“There is no doubt that we can greatly enhance our opportunities when we work on a cross-border basis and this project is one which all three council areas can greatly benefit from.”
This feasibility study application to the Shared Island Local Authority Development Fund totals €145,475 plus match funding of €17,500 from the three partner Councils, with a total projected spend of €162,975.