Path to reconciliation must not be derailed by Griffin

30 09 2012

SDLP Oldpark Councillor Nichola Mallon has hit out at inflammatory comments made by BNP Leader Nick Griffin after he attended the Ulster Covenant commemoration and said he should withdraw them immediately.
Cllr Mallon was speaking after the far-right MEP sent a foul-mouthed sectarian tweet to republicans following his presence at Stormont during the commemoration ceremonies.

 She said: “Nick Griffin has shown himself, yet again, to be the living embodiment of all that is wrong in political activism – espousing racism, sectarianism and every kind of venomous and bitter disrespect.

 “By using the language he used, he has also proven himself unfit for elected office and the authorities at the European Parliament should be taking advice on what action to take against him.

 “His presence at Stormont today was deeply unhelpful and should have been challenged– all Nick Griffin seeks to do is stir up discontent and sectarianism in Northern Ireland, and that is the last thing we need. I would hope that unionists will disassociate themselves from the backward and archaic political views which he so disgustingly expressed today

Hume bust in bastion of Unionisn

27 09 2012


Iriah News Article 26 September 2012:

A bust of the former SDLP leader is to be displayed in the mayor’s official parlour at Ballymena Borough Council’s offices.

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell last night presented a bust of his famous predecessor to the town’s first ever nationalist mayor, PJ McAvoy, for display.

The council was until recent times regarded as the heartland of hardline unionism, in particular a stronghold for the DUP and its former firebrand leader Ian Paisley.

Alderman McAvoy, who made history when he was elected in June, said he was “delighted” to receive the bust of his political hero.

“When I was first approached with a view to representing the SDLP as a councillor, back in 1985, it was the message and leadership of John Hume that inspired me to accept,” he said.

“Ever since, I have tried to live by his principle of working for all the people and I have continued that as mayor of Ballymena.

“This bust will be viewed by all my guests in the mayor’s parlour and I hope that they will be equally inspired by John Hume’s political legacy.”

Dr McDonnell said it was fitting that the bust, which is usually kept at the party’s headquarters, should be moved to the previously unionist-controlled council.

“At this time of considerable disagreement, both politically and at times on our streets, the call by John Hume to work together in partnership in order to overcome our differences must be made a reality,” he said.

Twenty is Plenty Campaign group launched

25 09 2012

Ballycastle, Councillor Dónal Cunningham has expressed his delight that a campaign group is to be launched in the town in support of the campaign to reduce the speed limit on urban residential streets from 30mph to 20mph. 

Councillor Cunningham stated that “Following the report that a 4 year old girl was almost hit by a speeding car while playing in the Leyland Farm area, Council is demanding an urgent meeting with DRD Roads Services to discuss traffic calming measures. But alongside traffic calming, action needs to be taken to reduce the speed of motorists in urban residential areas.”

“I believe that by reducing the speed limit on designated restricted roads we could act positively to reduce collisions and fatalities on our roads. Road injuries are amongst the leading causes of loss of life and disability worldwide, and regionally, a reduction in road related death and injury is a major aim of public policy.”

“I would encourage drivers to respect their safety of others and to contribute to making our community “a better place to be” by driving slower and by making it known that you support 20mph speed limits in residential areas. The safety and welfare of our communities is vitally important.”

Revitalise Ballycastle Town Centre

24 09 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed Moyle Council’s decision to work with the Department of Social Development in order to revitalise Ballycastle Town Centre.

Councillor Cunningham commented “Ballycastle has a wonderful historic streetscape but unless immediate action is taken to reverse the decline of recent years, the town and its community will lose the much needed social and economic benefits that a busy vibrant town centre has been able to provide in previous decades.”

“I am particularly keen to see the restoration of Castle Street back to the bustling and active street that we were once so used to. But for this to happen it is local people who must take control, we need input from local businesses and he local community so that a vision is developed for the future of our town and we are able to put their energy and enthusiasm into making that vision a reality.”

The Revitalise initiative aims to improve the appearance of shop fronts, improve sites and market the town centre.  The objective is to help increase retail trade and improve the physical townscape.

Congratulations to Ronan Hill on Emmy success

20 09 2012

SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has congratulated Ballycastle man Ronan Hill on winning a Creative Arts Emmy for his work on Game of Thrones.
Ronan who is the younger brother of double Olivier award winning actor Conleth Hill, was part of the team that won the Outstanding Mixing category for a TV drama series.

Mr Cunningham: “I would like to congratulate Ronan on his outstanding achievement and for bringing so much pride to Ballycastle.

Ronan’s success is another example of how local talent can work successfully on high profile film and TV productions. I look forward to seeing Ronan’s career going from strength to strength

Maurice’s new book celebrates life of John Clarke

17 09 2012

Moyle SDLP Councillors Dónal Cunningham and Catherine McCambridge were amongst  a large crowd who attended the launch of a new book “John Clarke: A Potato Wizard” by local historian Maurice McHenry, in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre.

The book explores the life and achievements of the pioneering North Antrim potato breeder John Clarke.

Clarke understood the principles of the emerging science of genetics and applied them to the breeding of potatoes. “A talented botanist, Clarke developed 33 certified varieties, the vast majority of which have the prefix Ulster in their name, and was a key figure in the struggle to breed varieties which were more resistant to potato blight.

“As well as being good scientist, Clarke had a natural flair for selecting the best seedlings.”

Clarke’s achievements earned him an international reputation as a highly successful potato breeder.

 Mr McHenry’s book will ensure that Clarke is remembered and celebrated. Moreover, it fills a major gap in our agricultural and scientific history.

Make Moyle the Arts and Crafts centre of the North

15 09 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor, Dónal Cunningham has called for local based artists and craftspeople to link up in a bid to further promote the Arts and Crafts sector which exists in Ballycastle, Rathlin Island and the Glens of Antrim.

Councillor Cunningham said: “We have such a rich variety of artists and craftspeople. We are home to a huge variety of talents such as potters, painters, photographers, sculptors, jewellery designers and furniture makers and much more. Many have already come together for the Ballycastle Community Markets but I believe there is still a huge potential for this industry to grow further by targeting the tourism industry and encouraging visitors to visit Ballycastle, Rathlin Island and the Glens to sample art and craft.

Promoting our local arts and crafts serves also to promote the whole region, and can bring benefits for all year round. Once visitors discover how beautiful our area is and the quality of arts and crafts on offer they will want to keep coming back.

“Once we mark Moyle out as being somewhere that nurtures and encourages arts and crafts, we will be sending out the message that it is a great place for artists and crafts makers to earn a livelihood, and the sort of place where young and talented people can build a career.”