Foster: Murals part of 'rich cultural heritage'

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Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said murals were "part of a cultural expression" and it would be "sad if visitors to Northern Ireland could not engage in appreciating the rich cultural heritage that we have here", on 18 February 2014.

She was reacting to calls from the Alliance Party for the removal of election posters, flags and murals for the duration of the Giro d'Italia cycle race.

Replying to a question from Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn, Mrs Foster emphasised that she did not approve of paramilitary murals.

The minister said the removal of such murals required engagement with local communities rather than pronouncements from the Assembly.

Mrs Foster was reporting back to the Assembly on a North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meeting on tourism matters.

The Giro d'Italia race, due to start in Northern Ireland in 2014 and progress through the Republic, featured prominently in the meeting.

It was the subject of a joint presentation by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the cross-border tourism body, Tourism Ireland.

The minister said that co-operation on a possible joint bid for hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup was also welcomed by the meeting.

Earlier, Mrs Foster reported to the Assembly on a separate NSMC meeting on trade and business matters.

The meeting concentrated on a presentation from senior officials of InterTrade Ireland, the cross-border business development body.

The minister said InterTrade Ireland had exceeded its targets in 2013 delivering an 8:1 return on investment.

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