Mourne Heritage Trust Need Your Help!

27-Mar-2015


Mourne Heritage Trust has been on the end of a huge cut to our budget, with the Department of the Environment outlining that funding from Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) will cease from 30th June 2015. This amounts to a 75% cut in the funding from NIEA, our largest funder, for 2015/16 and, with no plans for further funding, means that as of the 1st July 2015 NIEA will have no financial provision for management of the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, designated by the Agency, nor for Mourne Heritage Trust established in 1997 by the Agency.

As you will know from previous communications, a contraction of our funding was anticipated.  But I am sure that, like us, you will not have expected DoE/  NIEA to walk away from its responsibilities for our most prized landscapes at a time when recreation in and appreciation of these wonderful places has never been more popular.

If this funding cut is not mitigated our ability to provide the basic visitor services and to protect and enhance biodiversity will inevitably be greatly constrained. And, over £1m in offers of funding from sources like the Heritage Lottery, BIG Lottery, Interreg and Arts Council for heritage projects will be jeopardised.

But, as you would expect of us, we are not taking this lying down. As well as contributing to media coverage we have contacted relevant elected representatives and will meet with the Minister as soon as possible.   Martin Carey, our CEO, has liaised closely with Anna Lo, Chair of the Environment Committee.

We are also providing opportunities for our many supporters who want to help.  We know that many of you contributed to the budget consultations in support of the need for our services and your voice appears, so far, to have been ignored by Departmental officials. Here’s what you can do:

Advocate: Please sign our online petition at http://chn.ge/1EIXiQP.  Please also make your views known to the Minister, MLAs and other elected representatives.

Communicate: If you are a user of social media please broadcast your opposition to the slashing of MHT’s funding and  express how you value the Mourne AONB using the hashtag #LoveMourne

Donate: MHT is a charity.  This status has served us and government well, allowing us to provide our services in a very cost effective way. That status has, we feel, now been abused by government with this swingeing cut that is out of all proportion with the approximately 12% cut the Department’s own functions are facing.  But our charitable status enables us to exercise people power.  If you can, please support our work in Caring for Mourne through our JustGiving site - https://www.justgiving.com/mourne/donate - or by contacting the Trust office.

Thank you for your ongoing support at this time of challenge. Together we will continue to Care for Mourne in the way the landscape and its communities deserve.