Maginness urges U-turn on ‘bedroom tax’

28 02 2013

Bedroom Tax


SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness has warned Minister Nelson McCausland of the potentially devastating impacts of the so-called “bedroom tax,” and has urged him to reverse his decision.

 Mr Maginness said;

 “In a recent question to the Minister of Social Development, he revealed that almost 4,200 people in the North Belfast area alone would be at risk of financial penalty with the introduction of a “bedroom tax.”

 “This could be potentially devastating for many families who are already struggling as a result of the economic downturn, and will undoubtedly push many into financial hardship, or force them from their homes. The flawed policy takes no account of individual circumstances, such as single parent families who may not have their children living with them on a permanent basis.

 “It also fails to consider ill or disabled people, many of whom rely on overnight carers or the need for extra bedrooms by foster parents who provide a much needed home for vulnerable young people.

 “I have no confidence in the “discretionary payments” that the Minister is promising, and this is a completely unacceptable attempt to plug the hole in this flawed policy. Further to this, the fact that the Minister saw fit to return £15 million to the Finance Minister in the past two months demonstrates a failure on his part to adequately allocate his budget. It is a slap in the face to those who he is taking more money from, and shows his complete incompetence and strategic oversight in relation to financial management.

 “The figures released by the Minister suggest that there will be tens of thousands of people penalised by the introduction of the “bedroom tax” across the North. The SDLP will do everything we can to prevent implementation of this unfair and illogical tax on the vulnerable.”

Funding for delivery of ‘Entitlement Framework’ for all pupils

28 02 2013


Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the announcement of an additional £9.9million is to be made available to Post Primary Schools to help them meet the extra costs involved in planning and delivering the Entitlement Framework of subjects for all pupils.

Councillor Cunningham said,

“The Entitlement Framework is the post 14 curriculum which aims to provide access for pupils to a broad and balanced curriculum to enable them to reach their full potential no matter which school they attend or where they live.”

“Schools fully support the requirement to offer greater breadth and balance in the courses and pathways available to young people as a key contributor to the overall goal of raising standards and reducing the levels of educational underachievement that currently exist.”

“However the pressures of planning and delivering a statutory number of subjects under the Entitlement Framework has not been easy, the announcement by the Department will go some way to making the delivery somewhat easier”

Launch of Causeway Coast and Glens Biodiversity Action plan

28 02 2013


Speaking after attending the launch of the Causeway Coast and Glens Cluster Council Local Biodiversity Action plan, Councillor Dónal Cunningham praised the work of Biodiversity Officer Rachel Bain.
“Rachel’s enthusiasm for Biodiversity is infectious; the extent of the Action Plan is testimony to her work to date through the four Council districts. The comprehensive action plan will increase public awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the role it can play in areas such as health, education, regeneration and sustainable development”

“Biodiversity is the web of life, of which we all are an integral part. it provides us with essential goods and services (ecosystem services) that we could not live without,such as oxygen we breathe, water we drink and food we eat. By adding beauty and variety to our surroundings ,it enhances our health and well being . Biodiversity adds character and distinctieness to an area. The Causeway Coast and Glens Council cluster  is truly distinctive and varied from the Giants Causeway and Rathlin Island, to Binevenagh, the River Bann and Garry Bog. This natural beauty has helped to shape our culture and inspire our artists, writers and composers”  
“I look forward to seeing new Biodiversity projects coming on board within the Ballycastle and Glens areas”

Assembly not doing enough to tackle Child Poverty

24 02 2013


Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has criticized the Assembly for not doing enough to tackle Child Poverty.

Councillor Cunningham said “It is an indictment on us all that in the 21st century we have such high levels of child poverty in the North.”

“A Child Poverty Strategy was published in March 2011 which was the final days of the previous legislature; to date there has not been sufficient tangible evidence of the delivery or implementation of that Strategy.”

“I recognise that Child Poverty is not an issue that can be tackled in the short term. There are many factors which can impact on the ability to lift children out of poverty. The Assembly needs to focus on tackling these issues. They can best do this by working to provide parents, carers or legal guardians with the necessary support to raise their children

“Investment in children and young people is the most effective way in breaking through intergenerational cycles of poverty and social exclusion.”



Theft of oil from church property criminal and ‘sacrilegious’

23 02 2013

Oil tank
SDLP Moyle District Councillor Dónal Cunningham has condemned the recent spate of theft of heating oil from homes but also the thefts from churches and church halls in the Ballycastle area.
He said: “For the scond time in the space of 9 or 10 months we have witnessed the thefts from local churches and church property which places along side the thefts from private homes points to a level of co-ordination and organisation. The Ballycastle community are rightly outraged by these actions. In my view theft from family homes is y totally reprehensible while theft from any faith community is both sacrilegious as well as criminal. I express my disgust at all of these incidents.
“There should be no place for this type of activity in Ballycastle. I will be pressing the local police for results and hope that those who were involved are caught and shamed before the courts for what they have done.”
“I would also urge people to exercise caution and be vigilante when it comes to their property and oil tanks.”

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Motion for Moyle Council

22 02 2013


The SDLP Group on Moyle Council will propse the following motion in advance of  Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

 Council welcomes Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (March2013) and notes with concern that it is the fourth most common cancer in women; Council calls on the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety to ensure that further efforts be made to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer to increase earlier diagnosis of the disease and improve survival rates”

The Facts around ovarian cancer:

  • Only 36% are diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer are saved but this would rise to 92% – If woman knew symptoms and acted quicker and if GPs were not mis-diagnosing women with other less deadly diseases because the symptoms are similar. 
  • 2 women die every hour in the UK of ovarian cancer.
  • 75% are not diagnosed until they have advanced stage ovarian cancer.
  • A third of woman are diagnosed in the A& E dept. and by that time, they have only a year to live
  • It kills more woman than breast and cervical cancer and is the 4th overall biggest killer of women of all cancer.  Yet unlike breast and cervical there is no viable screening process even though out of the 3 cancers, it is the most deadly.
  • Ovarian cancer, the UK’s biggest gynaecological killer, is difficult to diagnose and requires gruelling and invasive treatment.

Ovarian Cancer in Northern Ireland:

  • Women in Northern Ireland are among the least aware in the UK when it comes to recognising the symptoms of ovarian cancer, a recent survey suggests.
  • According to the results of the public survey conducted by Target Ovarian Cancer, none of the 1000 women questioned in NI were aware of the symptoms.
  • Last year, about 178 cases were diagnosed in Northern Ireland, with an additional 119 women losing their lives.
  • Early diagnosis is key to survival.
  • Women diagnosed at the earliest stage of ovarian cancer have a five-year survival rate of 92%, but the five-year survival rate in the UK is just 36%, amongst the worst in Europe.

Community Festival and Tourist Event Funding

21 02 2013

Community festival
Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the joint initiative by Moyle Council’s Tourism and Community Services sections who have teamed up to introduce some exciting changes to its grants programme for Community Festivals and Tourism Events for this incoming 2013-14 year.

Cllr Cunningham who is a member of the Council’s Grant panel particularly welcomed the new flexibility between the programmes “Festivals make a significant contribution to communities and to the local economy. I fully support the rationale behind the introduction of a new Small Tourism Events Grant aimed at events that will create an economic benefit and encourage people to stay in the local area.

I would encourage anyone interested in organising a Community Festival or Tourist Event which would attract visitors to the area to come along to one of the following information sessions.”

Ballycastle: Wed 27th Feb, 7pm Sheskburn House,

Bushmills: Thurs 28th Feb, 2pm, Community Centre

Cushendall: Mon 4th March, 7pm, Old School House