Honesty needed from Trust on future of Residential Care homes

30 08 2013


SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for an honest response from the Northern Trust in relation to the future of Residential Care Homes.

Speaking after a BBC report  indicated that the Northern Trust were making care homes unsustainable by restricting admissions Councillor Cunningham who sits on the Rathmoyle Action Group and the Stakeholder Group said:

“The claim that the Trust were attempting to close care homes in an underhand way, needs an honest answer. I am alarmed by the drip feed of information mostly from media sources which is continuing to cause unnecessary distress to elderly citizens and their families.

“The Rathmoyle Action Group believes that Residential Services can and needs to be provided alongside the proposed supported living provision on the Rathmoyle site.”

 “Over the years, there have been reassurances from the Northern Trust that there would be clear and open consultation – these revelations fly in the face of that.”

 “We are talking about elderly people and there are too many unnecessary claims and counter-claims causing distress to the elderly residents and their families.”

 “The Health Minister and the Northern Trust need to reassure people that the care of the elderly will be approached with sensitivity and openness. The well-being of the elderly  must be central to  any decisions  regarding the future of Residential Care homes.”

Deep sadness at death of Seamus Heaney

30 08 2013

Seamus Heaney

SDLP MLA for Mid-Ulster Patsy McGlone has said he is deeply saddened by the news that Seamus Heaney has passed away.
Mr McGlone said:
“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Seamus Heaney who leaves a tremendous cultural legacy to the people not just of his native South Derry but to the literary world.
“Seamus Heaney was the voice of this community, a man of the people who knew his community well and reflected the history and cultural richness of that community.
“I remember him calling into my father’s business when I was younger and being struck by his humility. The last occasion I spoke to him was at Anahorish School, a place which inspired much of his poetry.
“My sincerest sympathies go to the Heaney and Devlin families at this time. We will continue to be inspired no doubt by the great cannon of literary work which is his legacy. Sar fhile, duine den scoth, ar lámh dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”
SDLP MLA for Culture, Arts and Leisure Karen McKevitt said:
“The news that Seamus Heaney has died will be met with great sadness by people on this Island and across the world who held him in such high esteem.
“His work touched the hearts and minds of people across the globe and culminated in his receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995.
“Only two weeks ago Seamus Heaney attended the Merriman summer school in Lisdoonvarna which showed his continued dedication to his craft.
“I have no doubt that his body of work will continue to inspire and uplift all those who responded to his thoughtful and profound pieces of work.”

Former SDLP leader and Nobel peace laureate John Hume also has expressed his deep sadness at the death of his lifelong friend
Mr Hume said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of my good friend Seamus Heaney.
“His poetry expressed a special love of people, place and diversity of life.
“That profound regard for humanity has made his poetry a special channel for repudiating violence, injustice and prejudice, and urging us all to the better side of our human nature.
“I have always received great inspiration from his written word and I am deeply grateful for the personal encouragement that I always received from such a warm friend and a wise man.
“My heartfelt condolences go to Marie, Michael, Christopher, Catherine and his extended family at this very sad time.”

From The Cure at Troy,” Heaney’s translation of “The Philoctetes,” by Sophocles. 

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.

Durkan to vote against “Escalator” motion on Syria

29 08 2013

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has said he will be voting against tonight’s motion on Syria which he believes is about framing the premise for future military intervention.

He said: “While this motion looks for the report of the UN inspectors, looks for evidence and looks for approval for military action, it does not rule out taking military action without UN approval.

“It is a bit of a ‘snakes and ladders’ motion – up and down and in and out of different things – but it is basically about framing the premise for future military intervention in Syria.

“We know that deadly weapons were used but we don’t know exactly who used them. We also don’t know what the scale of the remaining such weaponry actually is – and therefore military intervention could actually end up escalating the use of chemical weapons.

“If we are told that the proposed actions are actually about preventing further use we have to consider whether military action is likely to guarantee the further use of those weapons or not – and not just in Syria but in neighbouring countries as well (including Israel) and creating a wider conflagration.

“It is also somewhat odd listening to both American and British government spokespersons speaking in the last few days about needing to act on the basis of ‘retribution’. There are many parties and interests in the Middle East who feel fully vindicated in relation to their need for retribution and many of us who try to counsel against that as a basic motive and justification towards violence. It is therefore an appalling message from the international community to all sorts of parties in the Middle East – with all of the history and issues there that the going rate for justifying violence is retribution.

“Because I believe this motion is about framing the premise for military intervention in the very near future I will be joining those who will be voting against the government’s motion.

“There are worthy parts in it and more measured tones than were present in a lot of what the government’s spokespersons have been saying this week. But it really is like stepping onto an escalator and then saying once everyone else has piled on (including the Americans, the French etc.) there is no way down from that.”

Cunningham congratulates Antrim U-21 Hurlers

24 08 2013

Ciaran Clarke

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor has congratulated manager Kevin Ryan and the Antrim U-21 Hurlers on their historic success  in the All-Ireland Hurling Championship Semi-final.

The Saffron’s qualified for their first ever All Ireland U- 21 Hurling Championship Final defeating Wexford 2-15 to 1-16 . The Antrim lads dominated the scoring throughout with Stephen McAfee and Ciaran Clarke goals contributing to a half time lead of 2-7 to 0-9..

Councillor Cunningham said “Antrim Gaels are extremely proud of the entire teams performance,  but as a Ballycastle man I am delighted by the massive contribution made by club players Matthew Donnelly, Stephen McAfee and Ciaran Clarke”.

“We can look forward in hope to an All-Ireland final  this year and the bold prediction by manager Kevin Ryan of All –Ireland success at this grade by 2015 looks a realistic prospect.”

Levy cuts carrier bag numbers significantly – Durkan

22 08 2013

Mark H

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has today welcomed early indications of a significant reduction in the number of single use carrier bags dispensed in Northern Ireland.

Provisional Carrier Bag Levy figures for the first quarter indicate that 17.5million single use carrier bags were dispensed by retailers between 8 April and 30 June 2013.

Figures from several major supermarkets point towards a possible annual reduction of well in excess of 80% in those stores.

Due to factors such as seasonal variation, the Department of the Environment (DOE) is reluctant to use the data for a single quarter as a basis on which to predict the likely annual reduction for the entire retail sector. It intends to produce validated statistics, after the first full year of operation.

Although precise pre-levy bag use figures are not available, the Department estimates in the region of 300 million carrier bags were used in Northern Ireland last year.

Mark H Durkan said: “This is great news for the environment. Our streets and hedgerows, our fields and parks should no longer be places strewn with discarded bags. In many ways the public are ahead of government here, showing a great appetite for this legislation to be introduced. I commend people for their responsible attitude and willingness to come on board. They are making a personal contribution to addressing the threat of climate change and environmental damage. I very much urge them to keep up the momentum – keep reusing bags.”

Under the Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 retailers are required to charge at least 5p for each single use carrier bag supplied new to customers and pay the net proceeds of the levy to the DOE. The first online returns from retailers to the Department, for the months April, May & June 2013, were submitted in July.

The Minister added: “Retailers have played a big part in introducing the legislation as smoothly as possible. I congratulate them on that. I urge any business dispensing new single use bags, that hasn’t already done so, to register now at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/baglevy. The process only takes a few minutes and will enable retailers to make the required returns to the Department.”

1000 cyclists coming to Ballycastle

22 08 2013

Causeway Sportive

On Saturday 7th September over 1000 riders will be lining up at the start line in Ballycastle ready to take part in this year’s Giant’s CausewayCoast Sportive!

The Giant’s CausewayCoast Sportive is a unique event based on the iconic North Coast of Ireland offering an unforgettable cycling experience through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Ireland.

In the event’s second year, 1100 riders entered and we expect 2013’s event to be even bigger and better with some exciting changes and improvements being made based on feedback from 2012′s event.

There is a choice of 3 routes (57km; 126km; 182km) which all start and finish in the small rural seaside town of Ballycastle in CountyAntrim.

Route 1
The Causeway Coaster, 57km route, is a perfect entry level route for those who are new to the sportive scene or who are keen to soak up the CausewayCoast’s spectacular scenery. Starting in Ballycastle the route heads west towards Bushmills via the Coast Road, this circular route is mostly on flat terrain with some hills but is still classed as a challenge with some pre training definitely required. With a feed station located just after half way in, your energy will be kept up to enjoy the stunning inland scenery back to Ballycastle.

Route 2
The Glens and Coast Route features the breathtaking rugged coastline and the romantic landscape of the glens. This route is geared towards cyclists who are used to pounding out 80-100km routes on a regular basis. The route begins with a steady climb through the magical Glens of Antrim to Glenarm before heading north along the world famous Antrim coast road. At Cushendun, cyclists have a BIG decision to make. Turn left and you will find yourself back in Ballycastle after 20km with one long steady climb to finish. Turn right and the infamous Torr Head Road awaits you. With some epic climbs and hair-raising descents, this option should not be taken lightly. Full respect to any rider who gives Torr Head a bash!!

Route 3
The 182km Giant Killer offers cyclists the chance to cycle through an area of unsurpassed beauty. It is definitely classed as the BIG one and is not for the faint-hearted but for serious cyclists up for a lung-busting challenge. The route starts off by heading west towards Bushmills, along the Coast Road before tackling some reasonably tough, long climbs through the Glens of Antrim. At Glenarm the route follows the coast road all the way back to Ballycastle including the Torr Head Road which is sure to push cyclists of every level right to the limit. Expect to be rewarded with the best scenery on offer along the North Coast of Northern Ireland. Make no mistake this will be a tough day in the saddle with some serious climbs and thrilling descents but for all who complete this challenge it will certainly be a day to remember.

To enter online

Protests and Boycotts must not derail good community work

17 08 2013

Bushmills Public Art 2

Moyle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has urged that all the good community work going on throughout Moyle is not derailed by the protests and boycotts witnessed at a Moyle Community Cohesion Project event in Bushmills today Saturday 17th August.

Councillor Cunningham, who attended the unveiling of the public art sculpture in Bushmills village, expressed his disappointment that a protest and boycott had also been organised.

“There is so much good community work going on in the Moyle area by dedicated and committed individuals and groups, and this work needs to continue.”

 “I call on all community representatives, community workers, religious leaders and others of influence on all sides to continue to work together and ensure that community relations within Moyle are restored. The SDLP will work with anyone who is committed to bringing all the people of Moyle together in the spirit of co-operation.”

Tim McGarry’s Irish History Lesson – Sunday 25th August Ballycastle Seafront

15 08 2013

Tim McGarry

Following tast years success with Comedy in the Marquee which featured Kevin McAleer ,Moyla Arts Programme are hosting the very popular Tim McGarry (Give  My Head Pease, Hearts and Minds and The Blame Game)  on Sunday 25th August at Ballycastle Seafront from 8.30 tickets £12.50. This promes to be another great event and I would urge everyone to try and get along.

 The Show:  “he Secrets of 5000 years of Irish History  In his hilarious stand-up show, , Tim reveals why we all get drunk on Saint Patrick’s Day, examines King Billy’s sexuality and uncovers the real stories of the Troubles.

Tim McGarry – a one man truth and reconciliation commission – with gags. It’s Irish history, but not like you were taught at school. It’ll make you laugh. And some bits of it are even true… “

Tickets are available from Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre – 028 20762024 or email touriam@moyle-council.org


“No fracking for Fermanagh, no fracking for Northern Ireland, as things stand” – Durkan

13 08 2013

fracking- 14

 SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today stated that agreeing to fracking at present would be reckless and irresponsible.The Minister was responding to the David Cameron’s statement yesterday in favour of fracking.
Mark H Durkan highlighted that no decision should be taken until all facts and scientific evidence are established.He also re-assured the public in Northern Ireland that fracking could not take place in Northern Ireland without his say so.Mark H Durkan said: “At present there is no planning application for fracking in Northern Ireland. If and when any application comes in, it will be for me to decide, not David Cameron. I am not going to make any decision until all the facts and scientific evidence are established. To do otherwise would be reckless and irresponsible. Do we need to extract shale gas? Can it be done safely? Would it be done responsibly? These are the responsible questions. All facts are not in. The scientific evidence is far from being established. No fracking for Fermanagh, no fracking for Northern Ireland, as things stand.

“I am not though sitting on my hands here, simply waiting for a planning application to come in. I have asked my officials to get us to a position of best knowledge possible here. This means reviewing existing research, analysing new studies, studying case studies from other parts of the world and liaising with counterparts in other Environment Agencies in Britain and Ireland. Remember also, there is a big cross border issue here – shale gas beneath the surface will not follow the meanderings of a border above ground.

“So decisions based on fact, a process ensuring best possible knowledge is acquired, is my strategic way forward”.

Progress on Forest Tourism and Outdoor Recreation opportunities

12 08 2013


 Ballycastle Forest

Moyle  SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed Council’s proposals for developing tourist and outdoor recreational opportunities within the three major Moyle forests Ballycastle, Ballypatrick and Glenariffe.

Councillor Cunningham continued “the proposals aim to expand and enhance the visitor experience and will include improving the provision for walking , running and horse riding as well as the addition of  outdoor gym equipment.”

“Ballycastle Forest located as it is so close to Ballycastle town centre has enormous potential. We need to make the most of our visitor and tourist potential, Ballycastle Forest is home to many important archaeological sites, souterrains, megalithic tombs and standing stones and there are many stories to be told about the history of the area.”

 “Ballycastle Town Partnership hopes to extend the Tow River path as far as the entrance to the forest, so there is no reason why the old narrow gauge railway line cannot be developed to form a “Glentaisie Trail” which would facilitate walking, running, cycling, orienteering and horse riding. There are a host of sporting events which could be staged in our wonderful surroundings.”

“The Moyle Way and the climb of Knocklayde can be better promoted, alongside the Red Squirrel safari. With proper planning and marketing we can realise the fantastic opportunity which is on our doorstep”