Games of Thrones bus tour welcomed

30 10 2012

Welcoming news of a “Game of Thrones bus tour” which will visit each of the fantasy epic’s filming locations, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham hopes that Ballintoy can reap the resultant tourist benefits.

Beauty spots like the picturesque NorthCoast  Ballintoy harbour and Larrybane Quarry both featured in the US cable television series, and should prove popular destinations for enthusiasts

If we look at how well other areas like Northumberland’s AlnwickCastle which featured in the Harry Potter movies have done, reputedly bringing about £9m worth of tourism to that region, we should see this as a positive development.

Assembly must protect Hurling and Camogie

29 10 2012


SDLP Ballycastle Councillor, Dónal Cunningham is calling on the Assembly to work with the Irish Government to protect the future of Hurling and Camogie as the supply of ash to make sticks is under serious threat from a rampant disease which is sweeping across Europe.

“The UK and Irish Government’s decision to ban all imports of young ash plants and seed from countries hit by the fungal infection known as Ash Dieback that has spread like wildfire may be just the start of tighter controls.

“Before the introduction of these new controls, stick-makers agreed to work from Ash either imported from countries free of the disease or that any Ash being brought in from Continental Europe would be in plank form with the bark sawn off.

“Hurling sticks are made by artisan craftsmen in small cottage industries. The Assembly needs to work with the Irish Government to safeguard the stick making industry and to secure the future of our national sports.”

Vote Wayne – Open Water swimming man of the year

29 10 2012

SDLP Ballycastle Councillor, Dónal Cunningham is asking the local community to get behind South African swimmer Wayne Soutter in the online vote for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

“The prestigious award is to honour the individual who best embodies the spirit of open water swimming, and possesses the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and has most positively influenced the world of open water swimming during the year. If anyone has displayed these attributes it is Wayne Soutter”

“Wayne became the first person to swim from the Mull of Kintyre on the west coast of Scotland to Kinbane on the North Antrim coast. It was a 20.2 km swim that had been attempted before in the 1920′s, but this course had been buried in the annals of history because it was considered too hard, practically impossible, and preposterously unreasonable. The tides and currents
in this stretch of water were unthinkably difficult.”

“Wayne fundraised exclusively for local Charity Community Rescue Service and this is our chance to repay his courage and generosity.”

For his 12 hour 11 minute crossing of the North Channel, and for his audacious dream realized, for ignoring assumptions and convention, Wayne Soutter would be a worthy winner of the title 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.”

To vote for Wayne go to

Dangers of Internet Gambling

28 10 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has issued a warning on the dangers of internet gambling, and is calling for more effective regulation of online gambling firms.
“After hearing from a number of community represntatives, I have become aware of the scale and extent of the problem even at a local level”
“For many gambling is harmless recreational pastime but for a few it becomes an addiction which has placed many homes and families in great distress.”
“People are lured to online sites with promises of free bets and other credit –type incentives. Once they have signed up, many continue to gamble using credit cards risking money they do not have.”
“Internet gambling needs to be properly and carefully regulated. Sites should not be allowed to take credit card details, nor should they offer their products in a way that encourages repetitive play. “

Trad for Trócaire 2012

28 10 2012

@ Thursday 1st November in O’Connor’s Bar Ballycastle

Trad for Trócaire is Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s nationwide campaign for the overseas development agency Trócaire; a “Trad for Trócaire” seisiún will take place on Thursday 1ST November from 8-10pm in O’Connors Bar Ballycastle.

Since it began in 2010, over 700 Trade for Trócaire sessions have taken place in Ireland, the UK and the USA raising much needed funds for the charity.

So if you play an instrument, sing a few songs, dance a few steps or simply love the “ceol agus craic”, then why not join in at O’Connor’s Bar and play your part in this great initiative.

Minor changes to Bus timetables would provide an much improved service

27 10 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has said that some minor changes to bus timetables could provide an much improved service to Ballycastle.
“A particular example would be to amend 131 service to and from Ballymena so that it links with the 218 Goldline express service to Belfast”.

Ballycastle Schools a template for partnership

27 10 2012


Responding to the NEELB Strategic Area Plan Consultation, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham applauded the long standing  level of collaboration and  co-operation between Cross and Passion College and Ballycastle High School.

 “I am confident that this level of co-operation and partnership can be built upon within the Area Learning Partnership, and that both schools will continue to work together to meet the needs of all their pupils delivering the statutory curriculum which includes the Entitlement Framework”

 “I have no doubt and there is strong evidence that this co-operation enhances the quality and range of provision and raises and improves standards. “

 “As well as improving education standards, co-operation between the two schools has had a very positive impact socially in terms of friendships and community cohesion and provides the template for other areas “

 “Both school campuses require Capital Investment from the Department which if given priority would serve to maximise the use and sharing of existing school estate”

 “Ballycastle can look to the future in the confidence that they have two strong all ability post primary schools, each with their own identity and ethos, but willing to share resources and facilities in order to provide a top quality post primary experience ”

Dog Fouling still a problem

27 10 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for an even tougher stance on dog fouling in the town.

 “With darkness descending earlier it appears that a tiny minority of dog walkers are using the cover of darkness to allow their dogs to mess the streets. I appreciate that the majority of dog walkers behave responsibly however Council’s attitude has to become one of zero tolerance. Dog walkers must get into the habit of taking dog mess bags with them every time they go to walk with their dog.”

 Council officers tasked with enforcement need information from the public as to the time, date and location of dog fouling incidents a description of the dog and details of the dog owner, without this information the chances of an authorized officer catching the offender become reduced. 

  “The general public wants to see action and results on this issue, it is important that we work hard to improve things and enjoy safe and clean areas throughout the town.”

Welfare Reform will have negative impact on economy

27 10 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has warned about the economic effects of the Welfare Reform Bill.

The Welfare Reform Bill will impact on those who are currently in receipt of Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance and income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Housing Benefit who will be moved to Universal Credit.  

Many working people in receipt of tax credits will have already seen a reduction in Tax Credits from 1 April 2012 and it is likely a further reduction will be imposed by the introduction of this legislation.  The SDLP are opposed to the Bill and believe it is unjust to further attack the most vulnerable in our society.

It is estimated that if implemented it will remove approximately £500m from the North’s economy and will impact on both in work and out of work families. 

 Public sector workers currently working in the delivery of the benefits affected i.e. Housing Benefit (NIHE) Income Support, Job Seekers and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Tax Credits (HMRC) will be negatively impacted with a proposed reduction of up to 1600 jobs. It is important that we all work hard to protect these vital public service jobs.

Pensioners Discount Day

27 10 2012

SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has voiced his support for Age Sector Platform’s latest campaign, which calls on food retailers to introduce a pensioner ‘Discount Day’ in order to help older shoppers cope with the rising cost of living and enable them to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.

 The campaign has been prompted by one of the most popular motions passed at the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament earlier this year.
Anne Watson from Age Sector Platform commented: “ Drastic increases in food prices, and the older population’s inability to keep pace, has meant affording the weekly shop is a constant worry for many older people.  At present, one in five pensioners in Northern Ireland is living in poverty.  Rising food prices will push even older people towards this hardship line.”
Ms Watson continued: “It has been proven that older people spend a higher proportion of their income on food than any other age group; with someone over 75 spending almost twice as much on food than someone under 30.  This means older people are finding it harder to keep up with hikes in food prices, and why we are calling on food retailers to introduce a pensioner discount day to enable older people to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.”

 Recent figures revealed that average food prices rose by 26% between June 2007 and June 2011 whereas over the same period the state pension only increased by 17%.