Published Friday, 12 October 2012
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Deemed by many to be an important part of Northern Ireland's maritime history, the funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund was confirmed on Thursday.
The announcement was made at the Imperial War Museums as part of a programme to mark the Centenary of the First World War.
HMS Caroline was decommissioned as the Headquarters of the Ulster Division of the Royal Naval Reserve on 31 March last year - but has been berthed in Belfast since 1924.
Tourism Minister, Arlene Foster said the funding means the process can begin of "bringing HMS Caroline back to her former glory."
"The commitment from the National Heritage Memorial Fund is as a result of a partnership between my Department and the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) to create a plan for the future of the ship in Belfast," the DUP Minister added.
"Over the last year, there has been a significant effort, from myself and others to find a solution to keeping HMS Caroline here.
"In July, Nigel Dodds MP and I met with Andrew Robathan, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans in London to press the case. I am very pleased that our collective efforts have played an important part in ensuring HMS Caroline's future is in Belfast."
Minister Foster's department has also set aside £100,000 towards remedial work which being carried out this year.
"HMS Caroline is a strong and distinctive part of this Titanic Quarter and she has now the potential to become a must see attraction for local visitors and tourists alike.
"The minister described the warship as "part of the fabric of Belfast and she is also an integral part of our maritime history.
"The ship is of outstanding national significance and HMS Caroline has huge potential as a visitor experience as she is listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels."
However, the news of the Tourism Department's £100,000 contribution has been met with opposition from Sinn Féin.
Phil Flanagan MLA said he is appalled at "such a substantial amount of money from the department's budget is being used to carry out repair works to HMS Caroline.
"It has been gifted by the British MoD with a remedial repairs bill of £100,000. If this warship is in need of repair works, then it should have be left to the MoD to fund it instead of throwing public monies at restoration.
He asked:"Why should a devolved administration fund it's repair when the MoD's annual budget stands somewhere in the region of £38 billion, £28 billion more than the total budget allocated to our Executive by the British Treasury?"
Mr Flanagan continued: "Surely this money, which comes from the Enterprise, Trade and Investment budget could be better spent on hard pressed employment schemes with a meaningful effect on creating jobs and growing our local economy."
Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey said the ship had faced an uncertain future since being decommissioned as a training vessel last year.
He said the announcement will be "welcomed by everyone who respects Northern Ireland's naval heritage and tradition, who has served in the Royal Navy, or who like me has close relations who served.
"I am confident that HMS Caroline will be a real asset to the local tourist industry and provide yet another excellent reason to spend time in Belfast's historic Titanic Quarter."