Earth Hour tonight

31 03 2012

Earth Hour tonight- lights out – 8.30pm, 31 March 2012
WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple idea that’s quickly turned into a global phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of people turning off their lights for one hour, on the same night, all across the planet.

Hundreds of millions of people, businesses and governments around the world unite each year to support the largest environmental event in history – Earth Hour.

More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011 alone, sending a powerful message for action on climate change. It also ushered in a new era with members going Beyond the Hour to commit to lasting action for the planet. Without a doubt, it’s shown how great things can be achieved when people come together for a common cause.


Rally – produces many great ideas

31 03 2012

Welcoming many of the ideas that flowed from Friday nights”I Care about Ballycastle” rally organised by Ballycastle Community Development group SDLP Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham was particularly impressed with the innovative plans to bright up and rejuvenate some of the empty and unused business properties particularly in Castle Street.

Council needs to support the community and the groups many of them voluntary, who take the lead on decision-making about priorities in the town and how best to tackle problems. The community must have the opportunity to identify, design and deliver their own solutions that work locally. That may mean stonger lobbying of the various Government Departments and statutory agencies by Council – this is something I am particularly looking forward to.

Long term strategies are required to achieve sustainable regeneration within the town which put greater emphasis placed on community projects.
We need approaches to regeneration that nurture Ballycastle’s own physical, social and human assets and better ways to align the total public spend in the town.

Marine Hotel vandalism condemned

27 03 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has hit out at those responsible for a vandalism attack in the early hours of Tuesday morning on the vacant Marine Hotel site which saw many of the ground floor windows smashed.

Describing the attack as “a disgraceful act of wanton violence and destruction”, he said those responsible were mindless thugs who were intent on causing disruption and destruction in the town.

“I am disgusted at this incident particularly in a week that saw the formation of a new Ballycastle Community Development Group – therefore it is important that the community continues to promote Ballycastle as a great place to live, work and visit.”

Gerry McKinley – a Ballycastle gentleman

27 03 2012

SDLP Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has said that “Ballycastle has lost one of the real gentleman of the community with the death on Tuesday of Gerry McKinley owner of the famous hardware shop “Sharpe and McKinley”
The shop which retained the charm and character of an earlier and less complicated period was much loved by locals and visitors
Gerry was actively involved in many aspects of community and parish life, a long time member of St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Choir, Ballycastle Choral and Dramatic Society and the charity St Vincent de Paul.
“I extend my sympathy to his sons Vincent and Gerard and the entire family circle.”

Cunningham welcomes formation of “Ballycastle Community Development Group”

23 03 2012

Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the newly formed “Ballycastle Community Development Group” a group which was inspired by the facebook page “What I would like to see in Ballycastle”.
The Ballycastle SDLP Councillor said “This is exactly what the Ballycastle community needs; I am particularly impressed by the group’s stated objectives of promoting community spirit and working to improve the area”
The Ballycastle community has a large and untapped pool of people (particularly the young) who have different skill sets which we need to get involved and have a real say in the decision making as to what happens in their area. This is an excellent opportunity to strengthen local democracy and for the council to reconnect with the community by empowering the group to be involved in influencing decisions that affect them.

Cunningham welcomes proposed new Local Community Market

21 03 2012

Welcoming the proposed establishment of a monthly traditional local community market to promote local foods and crafts, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham hopes that this venture can create positive economic benefits for the local community. The market will support local produce and local businesses with what promises to be a wonderful array of superb local foods and crafts, gourmet food and drink, fruit and vegetables, organic meats, custom made jewellery pieces – there will certainly be something for every taste.
Praising the work of Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce president Mary O’Driscoll the driving force behind the venture, Councillor Cunningham said “I am particularly pleased that the group hope to work alongside and enhance the traditional Apple Fair- which was once a major event in the Town calendar. It will be great to restore this event to it’s former glory”

Communities need to respect each other

19 03 2012

Commenting on the selective targeting of the “Ballycastle” name on directional road signs in a number of locations in North Antrim, SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for neighbouring communities to show each other greater respect.
“I am concerned that the recent spread of this vandalism looks to have some systematic and planned approach involving considerable effort. I have three major concerns regarding the impact of these actions
Cost to the Taxpayer:the cost to the taxpayer in terms of finance,time and resources required by the Roads Service to repair and maintain these signs
Tourism:as a tourist area we need attractive , accurate directional signs as a means of promoting the area
Community impact:the psychological impact on local communities at a time when we should be looking improve cross community and inter community relationships.

Strong local community leadership is needed to combat prejudice and ignorance and to promote better understanding, tolerance and respect.

Comhghairdeas do na Seomrogaí

17 03 2012

Seamróga Loch Gaol Aontroma buacach i gcluiche ceannais chraobh club iomána, Cúl Doire buailte acu 4-13 0-17
Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has congratulated Antrim and Ulster hurling champions Loughgiel Shamrocks on their St Patrick’s Day victory in the All-Ireland Club Senior Hurling Championship final at Croke Park.
The Loughgiel men convincingly beat Coolderry of Offaly 4-13 to 0-17in the final
Councillor Cunningham added “I have great memories of the last occasion when Loughgiel reigned as All Ireland Champions and the positive effect it had on club hurling in Antrim. Massive crowds enjoyed the club hurling scene of 1983, I particularly remember the thrills of a closely fought Feis Cup semi- final and replay between the Shamrocks and Cushendall played at the Ballycastle pitch. Also a classic “friendly” v Galway champions Kiltormer which served as the opener to the new Rasharkin pitch and as a Ballycastle man I can never forget the epic 1983 County final which saw Ballycastle victorious.
If interest in Club hurling in 2012 can match what was on offer in 1983 we are in for a treat.

John Dallat’s contribution to “Ballycastle Hotel” Assembly debate

17 03 2012

Members may wonder why somebody from County Derry is taking part in this adjournment debate, but I remind them that Ballycastle is synonymous with the name Dallat. My eldest son was very fortunate to meet a Ballycastle girl, and he lives there. As grandparents, we look forward to visiting Ballycastle on a Sunday, and we have a closer-range experience of the town’s uniqueness.
One thing that has always struck me about Ballycastle, having represented Coleraine for over 30 years where tourism is a big thing, is the absence of an hotel. Having listened to the debate this evening, I will not get drawn into the quagmire of politics. We have been very critical of the media because of its negativity to the Assembly, but, my goodness, having heard some of the statements this evening, we do not need the media.
Of course, we welcome the proposed 120-bed hotel development at Whitepark. My party was very much involved in the creation of the Marine Hotel. I do not know the circumstances of why it is not functioning, but that is a matter of regret. Certainly, the SDLP was involved in promoting tourism in Ballycastle and elsewhere when it was fashionable for some to blow up hotels, but that is in the past.
We had some references to guest houses and so on, and they are, of course, the backbone. However, let us face it: any town of any significance needs a hotel for conferences and other activities. We heard that the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle was used by the Orange Order, the Young Farmers’ Club and the GAA and for funeral dinners, and I have been to funeral dinners there. However, I know from my involvement in Coleraine that a million other things can happen in a hotel.
My colleague Councillor Dónal Cunningham told me in an e-mail just this morning that the local economy needs people to stay overnight. That was the main problem we had in the Causeway in Coleraine as well: creating the incentive for people to spend bed nights in the hotel. So, there is no need to apologize for asking the Tourist Board, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment — I am delighted that the Minister is here — Invest Northern Ireland and any other relevant organisation to promote and help with the creation of the bed nights that are badly needed in Ballycastle, which, of course, is the gateway to the glens of Antrim.
There has been a lot of hype about the Irish Open coming here. I spent yesterday in Portrush and Portstewart with the Minister, who was doing her utmost to promote the area in order to ensure that that opportunity is not missed. There are several other new items on the tourist agenda this year such as the Titanic project, as well as the Milk Cup and the North West 200, the benefits of which spin out into Ballycastle and the surrounding areas. I know from experience that the North West 200 brings people back time and time again. Even during the worst of the Troubles, relationships were formed between people from here and people from England, Scotland and other places. So it is a serious business.
As I say, my heart is in the Sperrins, but I absolutely love the glens of Antrim. I will finish up by entertaining you with a little poem, ‘The Nine Glens of Antrim’:
“There are nine Glens in Antrim, Nine great glens in all; Glenarm is the first one And near Cushendall There’s lovely Glenariff, Glenaan and Glendun And nestling between them Glenballyemon, Glencorp and Glenshesk Come on, don’t be lazy There’s only Glencloy and the last one, Glentaisie.”
My colleagues from North Antrim, for goodness sake, put your full weight behind the issue, back it 100% and make it a success.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh

16 03 2012

St Patrick’s Day is an opportunity for the global Irish family, wherever they are living, to celebrate and acknowledge our shared heritage and culture and to celebrate and make our commitment to an Irishness of which we all can be proud.
Wishing everyone at home and abroad and to the wider Irish family around the world a Happy St Patrick’s Day.