The Director General of the National Trust has vigorously defended the charities decision regarding charging for entry to the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre. Some people have complained that they have been misled by official signs which suggest they must pay to visit the world-famous stones in County Amtrim. Hilary McGrady who heads up the Trust says that all money collected is used for maintenance of the site as well as other properties in Northern Ireland under the care of the National Trust.
Trying to be transparent
Mrs McGrady says her organisation is trying to be transparent about the signs. Some residents who live nearby and those who walk past the site have complained about the signs indicate that people are accessing the tourist location with the “permission” of the National Trust. Mrs McGrady whom herself hails from Northern Ireland says the organisation has been clear that anybody wishing to walk to the Causeway Stones for free has the ability to do so.
Maintenance not free
She adds that maintenance of the attraction is not free and somebody has to pay for it to be looked after. This means that entry to the visitor centre and the experience one gets from it will not be for free and that is the reason the National Trust charges an entry fee as well as for parking. People are paying for those two things rather than the Stones. The National Trust is the largest landowner in the United Kingdom and earned an income of £600 million from legacies, membership and property. The organisation has assets of approximately £1.3 billion.
Doing a better of job of being clear
According to a recent report, the Giant Causeway generated a contribution of more than £480 million to the Northern Ireland economy in 2017. Mrs McGrady who assumed the role of Director General in 2018 says it is a privilege to lead the National Trust. She says she has worked hard to be clear about what exactly the Trust is about. This is because for many years the media and the public conception of what the National Trust stands for has been a little confused.One day the conversation is about climate change and the next day the topic of discussion is LGBTQ so one can understand the confusion regarding what the organisation stands for.
Mrs McGrady says the overwhelming majority of the general public have enormous affection of the National Trust because it takes care of special places and she is seeking to take the organisation back to its roots which is what it does on a day-to-day basis. This doesn’t mean the organisation will stop pushing boundaries and it will continue to push the stories that the public wants to hear. She also wants to make sure the organisation stays relevant and its standards continue to rise.