§ 17. Mr McCusker
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the sale of Gosford Castle, Co. Armagh by the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
During the 21 years that the Department of Agriculture has owned Gosford Castle numerous attempts have been made through various public bodies to find a use for the castle which would be compatible with its position inside Gosford Forest Park and which would justify expenditure on its restoration. None of these attempts was successful. In particular, discussions have been held with Armagh district council but the council has never suggested making an offer for the castle.
More recently, the Department tried to sell the castle on the open market through an estate agent, also without success. The main difficulty is that because of its situation the uses to which the castle could be put are limited and because of its poor condition the cost of restoring and maintaining it would be high. At present the Department is at an advanced 278W stage of negotiation on the basis of a full repairing lease of the castle for use as a hotel.