His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, arrived in Northern Ireland this afternoon and was greeted at George Best Belfast City Airport by Dame Mary Peters DBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast and The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
TRH will be accompanied during their visit by the Secretary of State and his wife The Hon Rose Paterson.
The Royal Couple have begun a series of engagements with a visit to Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (ANIFPO) at Kilkeel Harbour in County Down.
Kilkeel can trace its fishing heritage back to the early part of the 19th Century and today around 1,000 men and women from the town’s population of approximately 6,500 are employed in the fishing industry.
Their Royal Highnesses were greeted at Kilkeel Harbour by Mr David Lindsay, The Lord Lieutenant of County Down, and went on to meet Mr Alan McCulla OBE, Chief Executive ANIFPO and Mrs Margaret More, Director, who accompanied the Royal visitors during the engagement.
Following a brief reception in the ANIFPO office where TRH met representatives of Kilkeel’s fishing fleet, the Royal Couple moved to the quay-side where The Duchess of Cornwall was presented with a posy of flowers by 9 year old Miss Holly McKee.
TRH then had the opportunity to examine a trawl designed by local fishermen, gear manufacturers and fisheries scientists, which has been successful in reducing discards of fish by more than half.
Continuing the tour of the port that during the 19th century processed around one third of all herring landed on the island of Ireland, TRH boarded a local fishing vessel ‘Boy’s Pride’, owned by the Forsythe family, and took a short trip to the north end of the harbour. Kilkeel’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat ‘Frank William Walton’ and four crew members provided a colourful honour escort.
Back on dry land again, TRH met Mrs Pamela Houston, Chief Executive of Kilkeel Development Association (KDA) and went on to view local fish on display in a mobile shop owned and operated by Mr Martin and Mrs Heather Millar.
The Royal couple then walked a short distance to a marquee and had the opportunity to meet people involved in the industry, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Newry and Mourne District Council.
Leaving the marquee and before moving inside the Nautilus Maritime Visitors’ Centre, Their Royal Highnesses paused to view the Maritime Memorial and to meet representatives of the Royal Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen and local Clergy.
Inside the centre TRH met members of Kilkeel fishing families and later visited the Mourne Seafood Cookery School where a demonstration was underway.
With a focus on sustainability within the fishing industry, His Royal Highness met with local fishing representatives and stakeholders for a round-table discussion, while Her Royal Highness separately met family members of those involved in the fishing industry, along with spouses and partners of fishermen and fish processors.
Following words of thanks from Mr McCulla, Their Royal Highnesses went on to accept an invitation to unveil a plaque to commemorate the visit.
The Royal couple were presented with gifts of a Shepherd’s Crook crafted from sheep’s horn carved into the shape of a fish, and a piece of jewellery crafted from antique recycled silver. TRH were also presented with a seafood hamper.