The popular walkway through Galgorm Castle Estates is to be closed from Wednesday to Sunday, August 5-9, during the Northern Ireland Open.
Consent for the closure was given by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council at their July monthly meeting, last week, despite an outburst from Sinn Fein councillor Paul Maguire.
Galgorm Castle Golf Club is the venue for the event at which some of Europe’s top young players will be competing for a share of the 170,000 euro prize fund.
In a bid to effectively manage and marshal the event, Galgorm Castle Estates Ltd sought consent to temporarily close the permissive path which traverses the estate from the entrance to the golf course at Galgorm Road through to the Sourhill Road.
Ballymena Council undertook a leasing agreement back in 2001 for the path which runs through lands owned by Galgorm Estates Limited in a bid to build a sustainable network of paths in the borough.
However, Cr Paul Maguire told the meeting that when he saw the item on the agenda he “thought it was a joke”, pointing out that Ballymena Council had agreed to spend £106k to light the path which, he claimed, had been ratified by Mid & East Antrim.
The meeting was informed by Chief Executive Anne Donaghy that the matter referred to was “currently being reviewed by the auditor” and that “in the meantime work is on hold”.
She added: “This (closure of the path) has absolutely nothing to do with the issue raised by Cr Maguire. For a number of years, every year, Ballymena Borough Council have closed the permissive path in order to facilitate over 20,000 visitors coming to Galgorm to the golf tournament.”
The requested temporary closure of the popular pedestrian route was agreed by MEA councillors on the proposal of Cr Billy Henry, seconded by Cr Timothy Gaston.