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Foster denies dismissing plan to attract Center Parcs

FERMANAGH missed out on being the site for the phenomenally popular new Center Parcs resort in Ireland as it was just a little too out of the way, the Herald can reveal.
The multi-million Euro resort opened its doors at Longford Forest at the beginning of this month. It employs over 1,000 people in its locality and has been described as a “game changer” for an area which has in recent years struggled economically. The impressive new complex is located close to both the M4 and M5 motorways meaning Dublin is little over an hour away.
Back in 2016 Enniskillen-based accountant Eamonn Corrigan, who is the chairman of the Derrygonnelly and District Cross-Community Partnership, said he had approached then First Minister Arlene Foster, pictured below, about the possibility of attracting Center Parcs to Fermanagh.
“I had heard they were looking to come to Northern Ireland and I spent three days researching statistics and so on. I made an appointment to meet her at her office and presented her the folder, saying ‘this would be great for Fermanagh’, but she just dismissed it,” he said. “Three months later I was reading the Irish Times and Enda Kenny was shaking the CEO of Centre Parc’s hand down in Longford, and the rest is history.”
Mr Corrigan had proposed Lough Navar as a location for the resort, a forest he said was much larger and more scenic than Longford Forest, and which he said would’ve been ideally suited to link with the Wild Atlantic Way. He said he felt the political will had simply not been there to bring the resort to Fermanagh.
When contacted by the Herald, the DUP strongly denied Ms Foster dismissed the idea and said she had actually travelled to meet with senior management of Center Parcs.
“Mrs Foster was supportive of the Fermanagh idea, but the decision-makers made a commercial choice to choose another destination as they wanted to be within one hour of a large population. Unfortunately this was criteria that the Fermanagh model did not meet,” said a spokesman.
“Center Parcs have opened in Longford, which is within one hour from Dublin as it is a major population centre.
If you look at all the Center Parcs they are located in a similar human geography – that is their model.”
Stating the DUP leader regularly supported local tourism projects, the spokesman added: “The accusation that Mrs Foster was not interested in this project is totally wrong, and it is something that she is happy to discuss in a private forum.”
Unfortunately, Center Parcs has told the Herald they would not be coming to Fermanagh: “We only intend to open one location on the island of Ireland and therefore needed the site to be as central as possible in order to be accessible for the populations of both Northern Ireland and the Republic.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA