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Lough Neagh a top priority for us, say O'Neill and Little-Pengelly

The first and deputy first ministers meet the Lough Neagh Partnership in Toome
The first and deputy first ministers met the Lough Neagh Partnership in Toome

First Minister Michelle O'Neill has said Stormont is determined to do everything it can to protect Lough Neagh.

Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said protecting the lough was a collective priority of the executive.

They were speaking after a visit to the lough's edge in Toome for a meeting with the Lough Neagh Partnership.

In the summer the appearance of toxic blue-green algae raised concerns over the future of Lough Neagh.

The meeting at the Lock Keeper's Cottage was also attended by Agriculture and Environment Minister Andrew Muir.

Andrew Muir, Michelle O'Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly speaking to reporters
Andrew Muir, Michelle O'Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly spoke to reporters at the meeting

Mrs Little-Pengelly said ministers were "determined to work together to find solutions" and take "immediate action".

The agriculture minister said the visit showed ministers' "collective" commitment to protecting the lough.

He said he intends to bring forward an "environmental improvement plan for Northern Ireland"and an "action plan" for Lough Neagh.

Mr Muir said there were "no quick wins here" but the executive could "chart a course" for the lough's future.

His has been undertaking weekly bathing water cyanotoxin monitoring at the lough since 18 March.

"Current blue-green algae levels and cyanotoxin levels are well within World Health Organisation guideline values for recreation, therefore no advice against bathing has been issued," a spokesperson said.