Action demanded after Cushendall swamped again by flash floods

28 06 2012

SDLP Moyle SDLP Councillors Catherine McCambridge and Dónal Cunningham are calling for urgent effective action to be taken by DARD, Rivers Agency, and DRD Roads Service in Cushendall and the Glens of Antrim to address the recurring flooding issue.

“Since 2007 we have had various DRD and DARD Ministers coming to the Glens to talk to locals and to pose for photographs with their umbrellas and Wellington boots.
“People in the Glens require action and both Departments have failed to provide it, people are fed up with empty promises and ineffective action.
“Every time it rains heavily, residents here live in fear of flooding.
“It is simply not enough for DRD and DARD Ministers to meet with people and make empty promises. They must deliver.”

Brighter Nights at Ballycastle seafront

26 06 2012

The Brighter Nights project is back and will run at Ballycastle Seafront every week on Friday nights from July 6 July –  31 August. Please support these excellent family street entertainers , it’s absolutely free. Enjoy the spectacular Ballycastle seafront area.


Performances commence around 7.45 pm (weather permitting). Expect audience participation! All children must be accompanied by an adult.




Friday 27 July: JIM AND NICK

Friday 3 August: SHARP DRESSED MEN

Friday 10 August: EDWIN LONGBOTTOM


Friday 24 August: BANZAI CHESS

 Friday 31 August:AFRIKAN WARRIORS

Precautionary Principle needed for shale gas study field

23 06 2012

Article from Leitrim Observer Saturday 23 June 2012

A crowd of over 150 people were told that the precautionary principle needs to be applied when considering the public health implications of Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking).

Dr. Carroll O Dolan G.P from Blacklion, Co. Cavan was one of the panelists speaking in Manorhamilton at a public meeting organised by the Love Leitrim last, Tuesday, June 12.

The purpose of the night was to review the recent Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) report. Among the limitations of the report according to Rob Doyle MVB was that its terms of reference failed to look at the impact of the procedure on the wider environment and landscape, on climate change, or its potential to displace jobs in agriculture and tourism, along with its risk to community cohesion and public health.

The paper itself drew from only seven core peer reviewed studies. The geology in these parts of America did not compare with the complex geology of Ireland.

The shallow fracking process used would also be closer to the water aquifers, making pollution a higher risk.

Dr O Dolan spoke on public and animal health risks. The precautionary principle states that in the absence of conclusive evidence the burden of proof should lie with the Gas Company to prove that Fracking is safe.

Lack of overall monitoring and the non-disclosure by companies about the chemicals used has meant that public health issues are now only coming to the fore.

Dr. O Dolan reviewed emerging evidence that has been collected by peer-reviewed sources over recent years backing up local communities concerns. Professor Emeritus of Zoology, Theo Colburn was forced to collate evidence at industrial accident sites.

Of her analysis on the chemicals involved throughout the shale gas extraction process, 90% can have adverse effects on sensory organs: 50% can impact the Central Nervous System; 37% the endocrine system; and 25% can cause DNA mutations or cancer.

Further studies illustrated on animals that drank from ponds contaminated by spillages from gas company wastewater, causing death and reproductive disorder. O Dolan warned that animals can be the markers to human health. He said that there was a need to learn from the mistakes made in relation to lead, asbestos, and the tobacco industry, where inaction caused serious public health issues.

Dr. O Dolan finished with a quote from Professor Robert Oswald of Cornell University “Without rigorous scientific studies the gas drilling boom sweeping the world will remain an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale”

Late UNESCO intervention not helpful

20 06 2012

Reacting to news that UNESCO is to call for a further delay in the development of the Bushmills Dunes Golf resort project, SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has expressed his frustration that this call, coupled with the National Trust’s decision to mount a legal challenge will delay the revitalisation of the local economy.
Cllr Cunningham said: “The best interests of the people here and across the North haven’t been at the heart of this decision. This planning application is over a decade old; surely UNESCO and the National Trust have made their representations to the planners, the planning decision had numerous conditions attached, and the plan itself made great use of environmentally friendly technology”
“On the eve of the Irish Open to be staged in Portrush, when we’re all working together to try and create jobs and boost our local economy; the timing of this really couldn’t be worse.
“The tourism spin-off which could be generated from this golf resort is manifold, not just in Bushmills, but in Ballycastle, the Glens and the North as a whole.
“At a time when youth unemployment is soaring and there is such a deep sense of hopelessness among young people, these delaying mechanisms will do little in the way of discouraging our youth from emigration.

There must be justice for victims of Loughinisland massacre

16 06 2012


SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has spoken in advance of the 18th anniversary of the Loughinisland Atrocity.

She said: “Nationally and internationally, the anniversary of the Loughinisland Atrocity will be marked by many people throughout the world.
“However, our focus is at home on the families of all those who were killed or injured in the Loughinisland shooting.

“As we mark 18 years since the shooting we remember not only the absence of family and loved ones but also the absence of justice for the dead, the victims and their families.

“In the next few weeks the PSNI will publish the findings of their review into the Loughinisland murder inquiry, undertaken at the time by the then RUC. This review was one of the recommendations that came from the Ombudsman’s Report in 2011.

“It is my understanding that this review will result in the PSNI senior team recommending a number of actions to be taken forward by the PSNI, that will hopefully lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the Loughinisland murders.

“The result of this review in the next few weeks will not bring about immediate answers and immediate convictions, but I hope will be a stage in the process of bringing those responsible to justice.

“I very much share the community’s frustration about the fact that 18 years later no one has been brought to book for the murder of these local men.

“The Police Ombudsman’s Report published 12 months ago pointed the way towards collusion in the murders but was inconclusive and simply deepened the level of frustration and distress felt by the families.

“18 years later we are at a stage where the PSNI are revisiting and actively investigating the atrocity, and have assured us that they are committed to arresting and convicting those responsible for the Loughinisland Murders.

“The Families and the Community need justice for the victims of the shooting. While it is long overdue it is my sincere hope that the investigation process the PSNI have now embarked upon will being answers and convictions.

“I will continue to meet with those leading this inquiry and keep pushing for results from this investigation and the conviction of those responsible for the murders of six men in O’Tooles Bar on 18th June 1994.”

Update: Rats

15 06 2012

Dónal Cunningham reports that after having been contacted by a number of parents, childminders and walkers regarding the rat problem at the sea front, he can confirm that Moyle Council have now awarded a new pest control contract which will take effect immediately. All new bait boxes will be installed by next week.

The area at the Tow River footbridge is recognised as a particular problem due to the feeding of the ducks and the river bank conditions and has been identified as high priority. People must desist from feeding the ducks

I am asking the members of the public who contacted me to continue to monitor the situation so that accurate information can be fed back to the Council’s Technical Services team.

National Trust ‘sabotaging’ tourism development

14 06 2012

SDLP Moyle District Cllr Dónal Cunningham has said the National Trust’s decision to legally challenge the development of a golf resort at Runkerry will delay the revitalisation of the local economy.

Cllr Cunningham said: “The best interests of the people here and across the North haven’t been at the heart of this decision.

“On the eve of the Irish Open, when we’re all working together to try and create jobs and boost our local economy, the National Trust appears to be trying to sabotage our tourism prospects; their timing really couldn’t be worse.

“The tourism spin-off which could be generated from this golf resort is manifold, not just in Bushmills, but in Ballycastle, the Glens and in the North as a whole.

“At a time when youth unemployment is soaring and there is such a deep sense of hopelessness among young people, this legal challenge will do little in the way of discouraging our youth from emigration.

“I appeal to the National Trust to take into account the wider benefits which this development will bring to our region, rather than just serving their own interests.”

Moyle goes for power sharing

11 06 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the decision by the DUP group at the AGM of Moyle District Council, to delay their turn of vice chairmanship thus ensuring that the true spirit of partnership and power sharing will prevail for the next two years. Councillor Sandra Hunter UUP was unanimously elected to the position of Chair with Independent Seamus Blaney taking up the position of vice chair.
“The positions of chair and vice chair are the most visible sign of local democratic leadership and I am convinced that the local community want to see partnership working. Partnership threatens no one and will provide the basis for a stronger, more proactive democratic leadership, one that closer to all sections of the community. In the current economic climate, partnership will give confidence to local businesses, the voluntary and community sector. I congratulate Sandra and Seamus and wish them well in the incoming year”
“The Council needs to be seen to be working in partnership in order to take advantage of very limited economic opportunities and deliver the best possible outcomes for the community.”

U 21 Hurling Champions

9 06 2012

Dónal Cunningham has congratulated the McQuillan GAC’s U21 Hurlers – winners of the 2012 Antrim U21 Hurling Championship. In a thrilling encounter played on Saturday night in Loughgiel they edged out rivals Cushendall by a single point, a injury time point from corner forward Conor McGarry proving to be the winner.
“This group of players have proved themselves to be a credit to themselves,their families, the town and it’s community. Like most Ballycastle supporters, our hope is to they go on to achieve similar success at Senior level”

Congratulations PJ

8 06 2012

Dónal Cunningham has congratulated his good friend and SDLP colleague on Ballymena Council PJ McAvoy who has been unanimously elected the borough’s first ever nationalist mayor.
PJ is a great character and wonderful personality; he has been properly described as a “Ballymena man through and through” and is highly respected by all communities.
“PJ has worked hard as a councillor since he first topped the Ballymena poll in 1985, topping the poll again in 1989 and 1997.
I am delighted for PJ who said he was “humbled” and added that his election would send out a message to the community about working together.
On achieving the position PJ said “I intend to be – inclusive, progressive, putting aside the divisions of the past and looking to the future”.