Northern Ireland

Exploris aquarium closure 'madness' says McGlone

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Media captionPatsy McGlone said the closure of Exploris would be "madness"

The closure of the Exploris aquarium in Portaferry would be "madness", the chairman of Stormont's enterprise committee has said.

Patsy McGlone was speaking after a fact-finding visit to the aquarium with his committee colleagues.

Ards Borough Council told them it would close to the public by March unless a department agreed to help fund the financially-troubled facility.

However, no department has yet agreed to step in.

A deal with a private firm, Livingstone Leisure, fell through last month.

About 70 protesters gathered outside the aquarium on Wednesday as the assembly members arrived.

Children from a local primary school were among those who took part in the protest.

Earlier this month, Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said she could not commit to funding the aquarium.

The minister said this could result in a queue of facilities claiming to be of regional importance.

Ards Borough Council, which runs the aquarium, recently deferred a decision on its future for two months.

It currently costs ratepayers £600,000 per year to maintain the aquarium and marine conservation facility on the shore of Strangford Lough.

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