Cut Trident – build houses

29 11 2012


On Wednesday 5th December, Tory Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce further spending cuts with his Autumn Statement.

But one thing we know he isn’t planning to cut is Trident.

Funding the Trident nuclear weapons system and its replacement comes at the cost of key services and facilities across the economy. The Ministry of Defence estimates the replacement submarines will cost at least £25 billion and – taken together with the system’s lifetime costs – the total bill could be well over £100 billion. CND has a suggestion on how that money could be better spent:

There is a housing shortage and the government has identified home building as an economic priority, nonetheless homelessness and overcrowding are getting worse. £3bn a year – the amount currently spent on nuclear weapons – would pay for around 30,000 new houses every year, creating jobs for around 60,000 people

Unison report on “Home Care” a cause for concern

27 11 2012

 At a time when the Department of Health is in the midst of a consultation on proposals for wide ranging changes in Health and Social Care services, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has raised concerns about the provision of homecare.

 He cites the publication of a report by health service union UNISON into the standard of homecare, which shows how poor terms and conditions for the homecare workforce have a big impact on their ability to provide a good level of care to service users.

 “Although the research was mostly carried out in England, I think it is fair to say that many of the problems are faced here, these include – visiting times which are too short, ‘call-cramming’ and inadequate levels of training. 

 “If as the Department proposes a greater amount of care is to be provided at home and in the community, we must insist that steps are taken to markedly improve the standard of homecare.”

Cunningham encourages take up of Agri-Food Processing & Marketing Grants

27 11 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham is encouraging those in the Agri-food sector engaged in food processing activities (including forestry) to avail of the “Agri-Food Processing & Marketing Grants” from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

 Under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, the Department invites applications from micro through to intermediate sized enterprises seeking funding towards capital investment projects.

 Financial support is available (£500,000 maximum) towards eligible capital costs that may include the erection of new buildings, refurbishment of old buildings and the purchase of new equipment.

  The Agri-food processing sector is a very important contributor to our local economy and the sector has shown good resilience during the recent economic downturn.

 The Department have told us that they are particularly interested to hear from those with a potential project investment of less than £125,000 (approximately £50,000 financial support).

  The closing date for receipt of applications is 12 noon on 11 January 2013.

Cunningham backs draft Biodiversity Plan

27 11 2012

Giving his backing to the draft “Local Biodiversity Action Plan” for the CausewayCoast and Glens which was recently presented to Moyle Council. SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham welcomed the initiative which aims to conserve and enhance our rich and varied natural heritage.

The plan puts forward an ambitious programme of actions to conserve and enhance natural habitats within the area, and to address the decline in biodiversity, with a focus on priority species that have suffered a sustained decrease in population, loss of habitat, or persecution.

The Causeway Coast and Glens area has a diverse range of habitat types including woodland, grassland, peat land, bog wetland coastal and marine, urban and rural, these in turn support an amazing number and variety of species

Make sure your “Electric Blanket” is safe

27 11 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has urged local residents to be aware of the dangers of faulty electric blankets and to carry out a few basic checks to ensure their safety.

Speaking about the risk of faulty electric blankets, Councillor Cunningham said:

“Moyle Home Accident Prevention group recently carried out free electric blanket safety which revealed that a high proportion of blankets were potentially unsafe”.

“The checks revealed that 15 out of 17 brought in for testing was found to be defective. Blankets which were found to be faulty is that replacements were provided free of charge.”

 “It is important that people get their electric blankets serviced regularly, at least once every three years and have it replaced at least every ten years. You should never buy a second hand blanket. If anyone is in any doubt about the condition of their electric blanket they can should consider safely disposing of it and purchasing a new one.”

Road Safety week

19 11 2012


Speaking at the start of Road Safety week, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has highlighted the results of a survey carried out by road safety charity Brake which is calling for 20mph speed limits near schools, homes and shops.

The survey of 8,000 children shows 70% of youngsters would be able to walk and cycle more if roads were safer.

Brake’s findings show 43% of the children aged seven to 11 said they have been hit or nearly hit while walking or cycling, while a further 54% worried about being hurt by traffic.

“As part of Road Safety Week we need to raise awareness among drivers about the need for slower speeds in built up areas. The Assembly is soon to debate proposals requiring for a 20mph speed limit in residential areas. As well as that we need to take a serious look at routes walking and cycling to our schools.”

“A private members Bill will urge the Assembly to work towards 20mph being the norm in all built up areas.”

Studies show that at 20mph drivers have much more time to react and fewer casualties occur among pedestrians and cyclists.

Quarry bends need road safety measures

13 11 2012

With officials from DRD Roads Service in attendance at the Moyle Council meeting of 12th November 2012,  SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has re –issued his call for the introduction of road safety measures including road strengthening and the erection of marked impact barriers on a stretch of the Magheramore Road known locally as the “Quarry bends”.
Previously the Department had indictaed  to Council  that “the stretch of the road did not meet the current criteria for a “vehicle restraint system” however Councillor Cunningham felt that this response failed to take into the urgency of the matter and that a fuller explanation of the Departments rationale was required.
Residents are concerned that this stretch of the very busy road is dangerous especially at night time and in periods of inclement weather. Part of the road is supported by a retaining wall put in place and strengthened by a neighbouring farmer. There is also evidence of damage to the road, which locals fear could cause subsidence. ”
The Magheramore Road (A44) is the main link road between Ballycastle and Armoy and serves as the main route from Ballycastle to Ballymena, Belfast and the Antrim Area Hospital.” 

“I will be urging Council to continue to press Roads Service to take urgent remedial action.”

Councillors welcome funding for “Old Cushendun Church” project

13 11 2012









Moyle SDLP Councillors Catherine McCambridge and Dónal Cunningham have welcomed the news that an award of £4,500 has been approved from Moyle Council’s Community Infrastructure Fund to Cushendun Building Preservation Trust.

Councillor Cunningham who sits on the grant panel explained that the award followed an application for assistance with technical costs, as part of an overall project to restore and refurbish the disused “Old Church” in Cushendun into a Community Arts Centre.

“I am delighted that this group have been rewarded for their vision. The group hope to deliver a Community Arts Centre which will act as a venue for exhibitions, performances, classes and other community arts activities.  We have such a rich variety of artists and craftspeople in the area and are home to a huge variety of talents such as potters, painters, photographers, sculptors, jewellery designers and furniture makers and much more.  I believe there is still a huge potential for this type of centre  to grow  by targeting the cultural tourist markety and encouraging visitors to visit 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.

“It is important to mark Moyle out as being somewhere that nurtures and encourages arts and crafts, by doing so 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.”

“A Community Arts Centre in Cushendun can be a focal point for cultural tourism”

Cunningham urges Community to attend public meeting on the future of health and social care system

12 11 2012


Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has urged the local Community to attend a public meeting on the future of health and social care which is to be held in BallycastleHigh School on 29th November at 7.00pm. THIS MEETING HAS BEEN CHANGED TO 11TH DECEMBERSAME TIME AND VENUE


“I would encourage local people to get involved in the public consultation on “Transforming Your Care””


 “Every household is to be sent an information leaflet on how they can get involved and give their views on the biggest change in health and social care delivery in a generation.”


“Health provision within Moyle is an extremely important issue, and decision makers need to be made aware of the views of the local community who use the services whether as patients, relatives, clients, carers, service providers and citizens.


  “We need to put our views forward so that Moyle has it’s say in the reshaping of our Health and Social Care system. Everyone wants to see an improvement on the quality of care and the outcomes for users. Moyle must not be overlooked because of its size and geography”


Health experts back 20mph calls

8 11 2012


Calls for a default 20mph speed limit in residential areas have received the backing of public health experts.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, has urged ministers to take action to make neighbourhoods safer and encourage children to be active by walking and cycling to school.

‘Parents want to see safer streets – the Government must change the standard speed limit to 20mph on the streets where we live, work and play,’ he said.

New research published by Sustrans found the majority (56%) of parents in the UK believe kids would be more physically active if speed limits were lowered.

A separate poll published by the pedestrian charity, Living Streets, found more than a third of adults would also walk if they felt their streets were safer and more attractive.

The Government’s public health tsar, Duncan Selbie, who is chief executive designate of Public Health England, recently used 20mph zones as an example of how public health chiefs can provide ‘visible, accessible and practical’ evidence to influence councillors’ decisions to benefit of communities