Bliain Úr faoi mhaise daoibh

31 12 2012


Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful and safe new year.

Wayne Soutter – Our Man of the Year

31 12 2012

WayneBallycastleHarbour .jpg
“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be”

In congratulating Wayne Soutter who finished third in the 2012 International the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has described the South African as our “Man of the Year”.

 “Very early in his preparations, Wayne became a good friend of Ballycastle and in particular the volunteers who make up the local Community Rescue Service.  So impressed was Wayne with the concept and value of the Community Rescue Service that he dedicated all his efforts to their cause.”

I have no doubt that these friendships will endure and that Ballycastle will feature in future “Soutter projects”

 “Wayne has been an inspiration to us all, his display of courage and determination, as he swam through hundreds of jellyfish, endured unimaginable physical pain and tackled six feet high waves –  as he became the first person ever to swim from the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland to the North Antrim coast impacted on us all”.

 The swim is one of the most treacherous and volatile stretches of water in the world and despite several attempts, no-one had managed to complete it, not until Wayne.

See video.

Promised Land – Matt Damon tackles the social impact of Fracking

28 12 2012

matt damon

In his new film “Promised Land” Matt Damon tackles the social impact of the hydraulic fracturing drilling technique, or “fracking,” which has sparked environmental and political battles over its impact on drinking water, energy use, seismic activity and other impacts.

Damon plays a corporate salesman who goes to a rural U.S. town to buy or lease land on behalf of a gas company looking to drill for oil. He soon faces opposition from a slick environmentalist, played by John Krasinski.

Promised Land

University expert expresses concerns about fracking

27 12 2012


A Bath university expert has expressed concerns about the wider environmental implications of a controversial gas extraction method.

Dr David Packham, senior lecturer in materials science at the Claverton Down university, has spoken out about the impact that fracking could have if it was given the go ahead..

​He said very little was known about the wider impact on the environment.

The Government has put its full support behind fracking, while at the same time trying to reassure communities that the necessary regulations will be in place to protect the environment.

Dr Packham said: “Certainly environmental damage has occurred in the past in the vicinity of wells and drilling sites, and could occur again.

“This would be local, but in my opinion, a greater environmental threat is the acceleration of climate change which the large scale use of shale gas would produce.

“Government scientific advisers have been emphatic in issuing this warning. This to my mind is very serious indeed.

“It opens the way for climate change to approach the point of no return, leading to an environmental domino effect where in a volatile and unpredictable dynamic, things such as melting ice and the release of carbon from the planet’s surface are set to feed off each other, accelerating and reinforcing the warming effect.”

These concerns have been echoed by Alex Hart, from Frack Free Somerset, who said the public was being sold a myth about the potential benefits of fracking.

She said Prime Minister David Cameron should think again: “It is utterly depressing that the country’s leader is demonstrating such a lack of imagination and proving how short-sighted he is.

“Cameron and other fans of ‘natural gas’ are using a lower prices myth to sell a toxic product. Prices will only ever go up as wells produce rapidly falling amounts of gas.

“Shale gas and coal-bed methane supporters are also ignoring one (among many) glaringly obvious fact; all wells leak eventually.

“So, regardless of whatever regulatory mechanisms, licenses or permits that the government put in place, prevention of pollution can never be guaranteed.”

Regenerate Ballycastle Town Centre

26 12 2012


The impending closure of a number of family run shops has prompted Councillor Dónal Cunningham to call for more effort to be made in order to champion Ballycastle town centre

The potential loss of a number of businesses following so soon after the decision by First Trust bank to leave Ballycastle is a major setback.

Councillor Cunningham said “In the current economic climate Moyle Council, Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce and all other interested community groups need to be more proactive in relation to developing and protecting the local economy”.

Councillor Cunningham proposed that all interested groups get together to work collaboratively and share expertise and knowledge.

 “Town centre regeneration is complex and needs to deal with interrelated and multi-dimensional issues that are driven by the wider economic and other factors associated with the town. An integrated/ holistic approach to town centre regeneration is required”

 Councillor Cunningham continued “Successful town centre regeneration requires a clear vision, strategy and action plan to provide a strategic fit for project interventions”

He said we urgently need to see an increase of footfall on our streets.

“The town centre needs to be brought back to life; we need community involvement and the community use of empty shops to keep our streets dynamic and vibrant.”

Nollaig Shona 2012

24 12 2012

To the many families, who mourn the absence or loss of a loved one at this time of year, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Have a Happy and Peaceful Christmas.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Christmas Number 1 – But the campaign for Justice continues

23 12 2012

The Hillsborough tribute single  – The Justice Collective’s version of The Hollies classic, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, sold 269,000 copies, and was crowned Christmas No1 2012 .

The triumph marks the end of a historic year for relatives of the victims of the 1989 disaster.

Last week the High Court quashed the original accidental death verdicts for the 96 Livepool fans that died during the FA Cup semi-final against NottinghamForest, and ordered a fresh inquest, after damning report into the disaster laid bare a police cover-up. “The interests of justice must be served, however distressing the truth will be brought to light,” said Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge at the hearing.

All proceeds from the charity single will go towards funding the legal costs of the families of the Hillsborough victims.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, made a catalogue of disturbing claims,  including the allegation that 164 police statements were altered in the wake of the tragedy, 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about policing of the match and ensuing disaster.

Fracking poses threat to countryside, warns National Trust (extracts from Telegraph article)

23 12 2012

fracking-national trust

The National Trust has joined the ranks of groups concerned by the Government’s support for fracking, the controversial gas-exploration technique linked to minor earthquakes in the North of England last year.
 Just days after the Coalition gave the green light for more fracking in the UK, the body widely considered a guardian of the countryside warned that the process represents “fools gold”.

Peter Nixon, director of conservation at the National Trust, said: “We have a presumption against fracking because of the threats it poses to the countryside and because at the end of the day it is a fossil fuel that will do nothing to arrest climate change.”

 “There is a very real danger that fracking is actually fools gold. It could easily distract attention away from what we really need to do: reduce consumption and pursue more renewable energy.”

In his Autumn Statement earlier this month, George Osborne outlined plans to introduce tax breaks for shale gas. He also created a new government office to oversee the industry.

However, have a range of concerns about the technique, which was blamed for minor earthquakes in Lancashire early last year. Campaigners also say the industry increases traffic to rural areas and can pollute water supplies.

The Campaign for the Protection for Rural England is also concerned by potential damage to the countryside by fracking.

Paul Miner, Senior Planning Officer, said: ‘Before commercial scale extraction happens, there must be a full and transparent planning process.

“The Government doesn’t appear to have recognised the potential for major landscape damage, or the need to properly consider this at the local level.

“If fracking is to happen, it must be with the support of local communities, who are most at risk if things go wrong, and without damaging the countryside.”

Community enjoys true “Winter Wonderland”

22 12 2012

Narnia Scenery

Having visited their superb “Winter Wonderland” Councillor Dónal Cunningham has said that he could not praise the Ballycastle Community Development Group and Teen Ballycastle highly enough.

 “The atmosphere generated throughout the town was heart-warming. In a year which saw setbacks for retail, construction, and tourism, this wonderful and magical festive experience brought much needed Christmas spirit and joy into Ballycastle and surrounding towns.”

The “Winter Wonderland” a three day extravaganza opened on Friday December 21.

Treats in store included a Narnia themed Winter Wonderland with the Snow Queen and some of the characters from the Narnia tales.

Santa’s Grotto and workshop and Santa’s little Helpers and Elves!

Santas Grotto

The Christmas market gave everyone a chance to pick up those last minute presents.


Pride of place was an indoor ice rink, a first for the area.

With one day of the event still remaining I would urge everyone if you have not already done so to get down to Castle Street and  join in this truly magical experience.


Executive must do more for tidal energy sector

20 12 2012

Islay Underwater-tidal-power-

SDLP Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has cautiously welcomed news that two Scottish tidal energy projects will share almost £32 million of European Commission funding.
Councillor Cunningham has called for the Executive to work to progress similar funding for the two tidal energy projects off Fair Head and Torr Head:

“This is great news for the tidal industry off the West Coast of Scotland, but only a few miles away our projects are in still in their infancy, and we need to work harder to progress these.”

“It’s this kind of financial commitment that the Executive needs to be pursuing in order to harness further private investment. If our neighbours in Scotland develop an infrastructure to support the Tidal energy sector, potential benefits for support industries on the AntrimCoast could be minimised.”