La Fheile Bhride

31 01 2013

St Brigids Cross

 1st February is St Brigid’s Day who along with St Patrick is Irelands national saint.

According to tradition during one of her travels, St Brigid went to visit a dying pagan chief. As she sat near his bed, she picked up some rushes on the floor and began weaving a cross. When he asked her what she was doing, she told him about the meaning of the cross and this led to his conversion to Christianity.

St Brigid’s cross is made from rushes or reeds and traditionally is blessed with holy water and then hung in the kitchen all year, to be burned and replaced with a newly-woven cross on the next St Brigid’s day.





Small businesses need all the help they can get

29 01 2013

Small Business
SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham is hopeful the sustainability of many small local businesses will be helped with the extension of the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme in April.
Councillor Cunningham continued
“Following a review of commercial rating an additional band of 20 per cent relief is available from 1 April 2012.
There are three levels of Small Business Rate Relief:
• business properties with a NAV of £2,000 or less will receive a reduction of 50 per cent relief
• business properties with a NAV of more than £2,000 but not more than £5,000 will receive 25 per cent relief
• business properties with an NAV of more than £5,000 but not more than £10,000 will receive a 20 per cent relief
“It is estimated that this measure will benefit an additional 3,500 businesses across the north and undoubtedly a large number of local businesses will be able to avail of this much needed assistance
http://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/small-business-rate-relief





Community loses out when playgrounds are vandalised

27 01 2013

Stop Vandalism

Reacting to the reported vandalism in Glentaisie children’s play park where a litter bin was burned and park bench damaged earlier in the month, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham said

Any act of vandalism no matter what the scale  is annoying but especially when hard pressed public money has been invested in upgrading and improving our playgrounds and play equipment.

“Our playgrounds are very popular and well used, so it’s an absolute disgrace that a small minority are attempting to ruin them. Ratepayers’ money pays for these projects, so the people responsible need to realise that it’s their neighbours, friends and families who ultimately lose out as a result of their behaviour”





Clarity required over the direction of Coastguard following resignation

27 01 2013

Coastguard
Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has raised questions over the future direction of Rescue Coordination following the reported recent resignation of Belfast Coastguard Centre Manager, Richard Newell.
“Local and Scottish boatmen are concerned about the consequences of the transfer of large parts of the Clyde Coastguard sea area to the Belfast station based in Bangor which has the responsibility for the North’s entire coastline.”
“Clyde Coastguard was closed on 18th December 2012. I am told that at the time of these major changes, Mr. Newell had made his concerns over safety known”
“The new Operational Area now stretches on the Irish side from Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough and on the Scottish side from the Mull of Galloway to Ardmurchan Point, and includes the Islands of Jura, Gigha, Islay, Arran, Colonsay, Coll, Tiree, Mull, Bute and Cumbrae”
“The public need reassurance that the new areas are manageable and properly resourced and that no reduction in the level of service occurs”.





Holocaust Memorial Day – 27 January 2013

26 01 2013

HMDT_Tag_Black_1

Every year on 27 January, the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day.

Holocaust Memorial Day provides an opportunity for everyone to learn lessons from the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides and apply them to the present day to create a safer, better future. This is our opportunity to share the memory of the millions who have been murdered in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur in order to challenge hatred and persecution throughout the world today.





Support the St Vincent de Paul Furniture sale

25 01 2013

Furniture

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for the local community to support this Saturdays (26/01/13) local St. Vincent dePaul Society second hand furniture sale.
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul exists to fight poverty,it is the largest, voluntary, charitable organisation in Ireland. It gives practical support to those experiencing poverty and social exclusion, by providing a wide range of services to people in need.
The Furniture Sale will take place at Fr. Barney’s Garages on Saturday, 26th January, from 11.30am to 1.30pm

svp





Cunningham: Exploratory drilling programme must be fully scrutinised

24 01 2013

Onshore drill to sea 2

SDLP Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has responded with a word of caution to the announcement by Providence the Irish oil and gas exploration company which has found there may be oil potential in the Rathlin Basin.

Mr Cunningham said:“The statement issued by Providence Resources today announcing a future exploratory drilling programme in the offshore Rathlin Basin should be given proper consideration.

“Any proposal must undergo the rigours of a full environmental impact assessment which would examine any possible positive or negative impacts on the environment, consisting of the environmental, social and economic aspects. Nothing must be done to disturb either the outstanding beauty or natural character of the area.

“While I welcome the confirmation that “shale gas” is not the target and therefore hydraulic fracturing “fracking” will not be the extraction technique, it is important to ensure that any development is in keeping with our environment”

“More research is required to ascertain the density of the off shore subsurface and its rock properties”

“It would appear most likely at this stage that an exploratory offshore target in the Rathlin Sound would be accessed from the onshore Ballycastle side with nothing visible above the sea surface. Exploratory drilling is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014. Providence has engaged regularly with the Rathlin island community and I now expect this consultation to be extended to the Ballycastle side.”

“I am keen supporter of the neighbouring tidal energy projects at Fair Head and Torr Head as a safe and environmentally friendly measure of providing energy.

“I look forward to Providence engaging in discussions with all relevant parties before embarking on any exploratory drilling programme.”





More families struggling with rent and mortgage payments

23 01 2013

Final demand letter being read under a spotlight
Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has expressed his worry about the number of working families who are struggling to keep up with their rent or mortgage payments.

“I have seen a very sharp rise in the number of working families who have contacted me in this regard. The stress and in many cases depression caused to these families is a real worry”

“Wages have not improved and job opportunities are limited, working families are finding it difficult to maintain their household and at the same time keep up with payments on mortgages and rents”

“It is a heartbreaking to witness the reality of families living in fear of losing their home. Behind closed doors families face stress, sleepless nights and strained relationships as they desperately struggle to afford their bills.’





Greater support needed for Tidal energy projects

23 01 2013

OpenHydro turbine
In advance of a meeting with Tidal Ventures a joint venture between Bord Gáis and its tidal energy partner OpenHydro who are to develop a 100MW tidal energy farm off Torr Head, Co Antrim, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham said “Tidal Energy has vast potential and we can all benefit from its use, a significant portion of our energy needs can be met through the use of tidal energy.”
“We need to see more support and greater ambition from the Assembly to make this type of alternative energy a reality.”
“Tidal energy technology is still in a state of infancy, but researchers believe that the right amount of support from the government will help propel this technology to new heights. If Assembly support was ambitious enough, tidal energy systems would not be a distant future solution, rather one that we could make use of in a few short years. Only a matter of miles from the Antrim coast, the Scottish Government is showing greater ambition and progress with a number of tidal energy sites”
Researchers note that the process of harnessing the power of the ocean remains very expensive, but the potential benefits that could be found through the use tidal energy could significantly offset those costs. Tidal energy is considered a more reliable form of power than wind, largely due to the predictability and ever present nature of tidal forces.





“Enough Food for Everyone If”

23 01 2013

This has to be the biggest scandal of our times.

malnutrition

Almost one billion children will be trapped in poverty by hunger and malnutrition by 2025 unless action is taken.
A coalition of charities, faith groups and high-profile supporters want governments to in tackle starvation in the world’s poorest countries.
The Enough Food For Everyone If campaign brings together more than 100 organisations and is launched in Glasgow on Wednesday, with similar events held in London, Cardiff and Belfast.
Kathy Galloway, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said: “In a world where there is enough food for everyone, the fact that not everyone has enough to eat is nothing short of a scandal.
“Great strides have been made in reducing poverty and 14,000 fewer children are dying each day than in 1990. But hunger is threatening to reverse these achievements.
“We want to play our part in building a world where no child has to go hungry. We need a concerted effort from governments, civil society and philanthropists to tackle the root causes of this problem.”
A report published to coincide with the launch said hunger and malnutrition could trap almost one billion children in poverty over the next 12 years, and warned that aid and health costs will soar to £78bn if it is not tackled now.
The campaign group is calling on governments to maintain aid promises and close loopholes to stop big companies avoiding tax in poor countries in order to fund recovery.