HC Deb 08 April 1976 vol 909 cc255-6W
Mr. Dunlop

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement about the Ulster American Folk Park in County Tyrone; and whether it will be opened during the American Bicentennial Year.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh first conceived some four years ago will open in July 1976. It will illustrate through its Old and New World buildings the life of early Ulster emigrants in Ulster and America; it will have an educational ròle and should also be a tourist attraction of great potential.

The capital costs will be some £500,000. Included in these are the costs of an information centre of about £110,000 most of which are being met by a contribution from the Matthew T. Mellon Foundation. The Folk Park incorporates the Mellon Family Homestead which has been open to the public for some years. The future net annual running cost is estimated at some £50,000.

Much of the work has been undertaken by Enterprise Ulster, a Government-financed direct labour agency and has provided about 80 man-years of direct labour employment to date in a high unemployment area. The construction of replica buildings at the Folk Park has enabled unemployed men to demonstrate their skills.

Although not planned as part of the United Kingdom contributions to the American Bi-Centennial celebrations, the coincidence of its opening in July this year with these celebrations is particularly apt and has attracted considerable interest in America.