Mary McAleese

31 10 2011

Ballycastle SDLP have paid tribute to Mary McAleese in her final days as Irish President. Speaking shortly after the election victory of her successor Labour’s Michael D Higgins, Councillor Dónal Cunningham said:
“Mary McAleese has served as Irish President with distinction, compassion and impact. She has more than fulfilled her promise to build bridges. She and her husband Martin (both proud of their County Antrim roots) have helped to build and improve relationships between North and South, and between the different traditions on this island and between Britain and Ireland.
“President McAleese has been a constant source of encouragement for all in the nation. She has encouraged, enterprise, reconciliation, inclusion, culture, community, child and family support, learning, innovation, partnership, environmental responsibility and international solidarity.
“In all her visits to Moyle, both Mary and Martin have impressed and motivated people. In their various invitations and receptions of Moyle people at Áras an Uachtaráin they have also recognised the work and worth of many individuals and groups here.

Moyle Council supports “Heart of the Glens” landscape partnership programme

30 10 2011

Moyle District Council voted to support the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust’s project to conserve and celebrate the unique landscape of the Antrim Glens.

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham said “The Glens of Antrim contain some of Ireland’s most stunning and
beautiful landscapes , I am delighted to support the plans to conserve and celebrate the unique natural and cultural heritage of the area”. CCGHT’s Helen Noble presented to Council an outline of the outreach and educational activities at the heart of the proposals, the project will reconnect the local community and visitors to the area with the landscape to secure its habitats and traditional features for generations to come.

Landscape Partnerships act as a catalyst to bring organisations and communities together to form partnerships that create a shared vision for the conservation and management of our landscape heritage, enabling people to tackle the heritage needs of their local landscapes in a co-ordinated and effective way. The Heart of the Glens scheme involves a portfolio of individual projects that deliver long-term social, economic and environmental benefits for the area.

The Glens of Antrim consist of nine spectacular glens on the Antrim Coast which run down to the dramatic cliffs, headlands and bays of the rocky North Channel coastline. The area is one of high scenic value, important habitats and vigorous community life. It is a popular tourist destination thanks to its distinctive farmsteads known as Clachans and traditional field patterns. The four coastal villages of Glenarm, Cushendall, Cushendun and Carnlough alongside the town of Ballycastle, all designated Conservation Areas, are home to the majority of the population of the Glens and each has its own distinct relationship with the glens.

The five year Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership will conserve and maintain the special landscape character of the area and re-enforce the relationship between people and place through a series of individual projects. The rich natural heritage of the area will be conserved through a series of schemes to manage the woodland, conserve the red squirrel and improve the condition of the upland blanket bog habitat. Built heritage projects will include the survey and restoration of selected archaeological sites and heritage features such as the dry stone walls of the ladder farms.

The Landscape Partnership will reconnect the Glens community to the glens landscape through a series of events and activities such as a public art competition, food festival and exhibitions and talks. Working in partnership with local businesses and other organisations with an interest in the area, a number of learning and training opportunities will be offered on subjects as diverse as sustainable fishing and farming practices, hedge laying and whitewashing traditional buildings or traditional music and sport.

The Nine Glens of Antrim are
Glenarm – The glen of the army, the village of Glenarm is on the famous Antrim Coast.
Glencloy – The glen of the hedges, two miles north of Glenarm, with the village of Carnlough at its foot.
Glenariff – The arable or fertile glen, the best-known of the nine as the ‘Queen of the Glens’, sweeps majestically towards the village of Waterfoot.
Glenballyemon – Edwardstown glen, at the foot of which is Cushendall – more of less at the centre of the nine glens.
Glenaan – The glen of the colt’s foot or rush lights, a rugged glen – having the site of the legendary Ossian’s grave, on the Cushendall-Ballymoney mountain road.
Glencorp – The glen of the slaughtered, close by Glenaan and roughly parallel to the main road from Cushendall to Cushendun.
Glendun – The glen of the brown river, adjacent to Cushendun village; spanned by a viaduct on the main Cushendall-Ballycastle road.
Glenshesk – The sedgy glen, east of the town of Ballycastle, and sweeping towards the ruins of historical Bonamargy friary.
Glentaisie – Named after ‘Taisie’, princess of Rathlin Island, roughly west of Ballycastle and, like Glenshesk, close to the town.

Ballintoy Village Forum could be the key to successful Community Engagement

30 10 2011

SDLP Ballycastle Cllr Donal Cunningham has praised the local groups who have come together to form the Ballintoy Village Forum.

Speaking after a meeting with local residents, he said: “A Village Plan for Ballintoy had been produced following extensive and detailed community consultation and research, it contained a collective vision of how people who live in, work and visit Ballintoy would like to see their village improve and develop

The Village Forum will aim to progress the proposals identified in the Village Plan to bid for funding from the second stage of the North East Rural Development Programme for Village Renewal

“ I would encourage anyone with an interest in the village whether resident or otherwise, to support the community initiatives, and to get involved in progressing the projects so that they can work to improve the quality of village life. I also hope that the Village Forum will act as a link between the Ballintoy Community and the Council and help improve Community Engagement”

Ballycastle “fireworks display” – a display of community spirit

30 10 2011

One of the highlights of the Ballycastle year is the Halloween Fireworks display at the seafront. Ballycastle SDLP councillor Dónal Cunningham said “The fireworks display has over the years attracted ever increasing crowds all who have been consistanty enthralled by the display. The biggest thing of course is that the event is entirely free, and the community spirit is self evident”.

“It is a great night with great company and something that I feel on “Oiche Samhna” is good for the soul”.

If you have any thoughts on how the event could be extended or improved, please let us know.

Beannachtaí na Samhna oraibh!

Fracking documentary in Belfast

28 10 2011

‘Gaslands’ in the Blackbox Arts Centre Belfast on Tuesday 15th Nov @ 7pm.

GASLAND is an award-winning independent documentary exposing the perilous effects of natural gas drilling on communities in America.
The film has been called a ‘horror movie and wake up call’ to the increasingly pervasive process of energy extraction called Hydraulic Fracturing or, as it’s commonly known, ‘fracking.’ Fracking pumps water at high velocity into the ground with a mixture of chemicals, some of which are harmful to… the environment, to extract gas from below. The film highlights communities who, lured by the promise of profit, are now experiencing the consequences of hydraulic fracturing – including the loss of potable ground water, flammable taps, environmental degradation and being perpetually beholden to the plans of the energy companies.

Donal Cunningham will be attending the event and is requesting the organisers bring the show to Ballycastle.

Victory for wave and tidal energy

28 10 2011

Last week, the UK government announced new levels of support for different types of renewable energy in the UK, and one of the big winners was for marine energy. The Irish government now needs to follow suit

This is a huge victory for wave and tidal energy, and a great boost for the future.

This week, the WWF published its Positive Energy report, suggesting that by 2030, the UK could get up to 90% of it’s energy from clean, safe sources like wind and tidal. Ireland could also achieve similar results.

The emerging wave and tidal industry now needs to start building the first arrays needed to start generating electricity from our coastal waters, which could provide a fifth of our energy needs by 2030.

Say NO to fracking in the Rathlin Basin

23 10 2011

Ballycastle SDLP councillor Dónal Cunningham will make the following proposal at the Moyle District Council meeting of 24 October 2011

“16. Propose that Council oppose the possibility of the use of hydraulic fracturing in any stage of the gas explorations in the Rathlin Basin.
(Requested by Councillor Cunningham)”

This horizontal drilling process involves the pumping of millions of gallons of water, mixed with hundreds of highly toxic chemicals, thousands of feet deep into the ground.

Already in the U.S.A and Australia, pollution caused by this process to land, to air, to surface water and to groundwater has resulted in a terrible health toll and catastrophic environmental damage. Countless cases of death have been reported among wildlife and livestock. A litany of serious ‘fracking’ related health problems for people in communities in areas where this technology has been used have also come to light

We have to say NO to the possibility of fracking in the Rathlin Basin.

Planning Decisions welcomed for Church Road and Ramoan Road

21 10 2011

SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed two planning decisions which he hopes will produce great benefits to the community.

Outline planning permission has been granted for a new two storey Community Fire station with training yard and tower to be located at the Ramoan Road Playing Fields

Full planning permission has been awarded for the nearby graveyard extension and car parking facilities for St. James Church of Ireland located in the field between St James Parish Church and Ramoan Court which fronts both Ramoan Road and Church Road Ballycastle

Mark Durkan’s contribution to the Hillsborough debate-

21 10 2011

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has spoken of his support for the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

Speaking during a debate about the tragedy in the House of Commons, Mark Durkan said:
“This campaign touches everyone who seeks justice. A group of my constituents have a particular sense of empathy and solidarity with the families of the 96—the Bloody Sunday families, who have developed a very strong bond with those families.

“In a different way, they can empathise with exactly what families suffer whenever they have to struggle against indifference, injustice and insult and whenever survivors have to endure calumny and are asked by the powers that be, in the media and elsewhere, to carry some of the blame of that day.

“This issue touches many people, and the families of the 96 have all our hearts”

Cunningham slams lack of consultation on school bus changes

17 10 2011

Speaking after having been contacted by a number of parents, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham slammed Translink for the lack of consultation for timetable and route changes introduced on the Ballycastle to Loreto College Coleraine service.

“Pupils were simply handed a note on the Friday afternoon announcing route and timetable changes to take effect on the Monday morning. This is simply not good enough”

“On the first day of operation the service operated ten minutes before the time notified, which indicates an error somewhere in the system”

“The resultant increased volume of parking at the Altananam bus stop is dangerous, and  is evidence of a  poorly thought out change ”