Despite thousands of visitors each month, a south Armagh beauty spot continues to operate without a purpose-built toilet block.
The Slieve Gullion Forest Park is currently lacking in essential toilet facilities as well as much-need extra car parking.
And there’s a growing frustration around a process which has shown little progress, despite several years of campaigning.
“For two years we have been meeting with Council officials, Forestry and Clanrye Group in an effort to increase parking spaces and provide a proper toilet block for the thousands of visitors who use the play park and forest walks each month,” said councillor Mickey Larkin.
“Last year we were assured that Council had identified the land needed for parking and were awaiting planning permission for the toilet block.
“We are now told that the land is no longer available and at a meeting this week have been informed of a delay in planning permission due to the Environment Agency requesting a survey.
“Council officers state that these issues that they have been trying to resolve have been frustrated by events outside of their control. This is deeply frustrating”
He added: “At the meeting this week in the Courtyard we proposed that Council provide a temporary toilet block and come back to councillors within four weeks with a solution to the parking problem. These provisions need to be in place for the opening of this year’s season.”
Party colleague Megan Fearon continued: “There is a growing anger and frustration amongst the local community and in particular those involved in encouraging visitors to South Armagh, that an amenity that should be the jewel in the crown of our tourist and visitor attractions is sadly lacking in quite a few areas.
“For visitors there isn’t even the basic facilities to greet them. There are no proper toilets, nappy changing area, first aid room nor staff room for Council employees.
“This is totally unacceptable, there has to be a determined effort from all involved to find a way to overcome these obstacles.”