Happy 2015

31 12 2014

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As 2015 approaches, we are all aware of the many changes and challenges ahead of the communities of Moyle. I would ask that we continue to work hard for our towns and villages for the vitality of our neighborhoods, our local businesses, our schools and our churches,  the strength of our families, our diversity, our young people and our senior citizens.  

We are inspired by the community service of countless residents.  We believe that when our area works together as we did in the hospital campaign we can overcome the challenges we face and that together we will continue to make Moyle a better place. I wish you and your loved ones a truly happy, peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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Chairman’s Diary 29/12/14

31 12 2014

DIARY header

 As stated in last week’s Diary, the confirmation that as a result of the interim relief achieved in the judicial review process, the proposal to ‘temporarily close’ Dalriada hospital had been withdrawn and that the Department of Health had instructed the Northern Health and Social Care Trust not to proceed with the public consultation was the Christmas present the community had so much wanted. The spirits of the Dalriada Hospital community, patients, staff, doctors, nurses and the wider community were once again lifted.

 It was great to hear of the new admissions of patients to the Dalriada hospital and the return of some of the staff who had been redeployed. All 32 beds in the unit are now available for Intermediate Care and MS Respite; it will be wonderful news when full capacity is achieved.

 Everyone associated with the campaign is fully aware that the efforts to maintain services at Dalriada Hospital will remain a long term fight. The so called ‘Stormont House’ deal achieved on Christmas Eve smacks of poor strategic vision, it may have served to break a political impasse but has very dangerously attempted to resolve complex budgetary and welfare issues by increased borrowing. Central to the all of the thinking behind the deal is the achievement of a balanced budget for 2015-16. In layman’s terms the Department of Health and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust will be asked to balance their books by March 2016, it is therefore important that we continue to maintain our momentum and focus on longer term solutions which include Dalriada Hospital as an integral part of health service delivery within that overall context. The Community campaign must remain strong as we concentrate on future service provision.

 Moyle Council had agreed to appoint a consultant in order to formulate the community response to the proposed consultation; Council has since agreed that the consultant can now begin to work with the professionals and the community to develop a paper to bring to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the Health Minister on how services can be maintained, developed and improved at Dalriada. We need to convince the Health Minister that future investment in Dalriada Hospital would do much to maintain and improve health service provision. The Health Minister and the Trust need to see Dalriada Hospital as part of their strategic vision and realise its potential for the creation of a spectrum of services which can be locally accessed in an efficient and economic way.

  Protest

I would encourage as many people as possible to attend the parade on Saturday 3th January 2015, which is designed to mark the New Year and our continued resolve to see Dalriada as a centre of medical excellence. The parade will leave the Dalriada hospital car park at 1.00pm and will proceed to the sea front before returning to the Diamond. We are keen that all local sports clubs, scouts, Boys and Girls Brigade line out in their uniforms and club colours. We are also encouraging people to dress in fancy dress so that it will be a colourful, family, community parade. To date, all of the events have been attended in great numbers, so let us make sure that Saturday is another reminder that “we are no soft touch” and that the issue is as important as ever. Please make the necessary arrangements to be there in big numbers.

 Lisa Black

 The death of any young person is a tragedy, and in the mouth of Christmas even more tragic. However there was something inspirational about the funeral mass for Lisa Black on Christmas Eve. 36 year old Lisa the daughter of my former Councillor colleague Madeline Black had lost her battle with cancer, a battle which she faced with great inner strength and defiance.To a packed chapel, the priest spoke so eloquently of Lisa’s enormous strength and determination, throughout her life, career and latterly her illness, and how she had inspired so many others. In his personal tribute he referred to the words Lisa had published on her facebook page back in September which summed up her attitude to life and it’s many challenges when she wrote.“When something bad happens – you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” A quotation as challenging as it is inspirational.

 New Year   

 As 2015 approaches, we are aware of the many changes and challenges ahead of the communities of Moyle. I would ask that we continue to work hard for our towns and villages for the vitality of our neighborhoods, our local businesses, our schools and our churches, in the strength of our families, our diversity, our young people and our senior citizens.  We are inspired by the community service of countless residents.  We believe that when our area works together as we did in the hospital campaign we can overcome the challenges we face and that together we will continue to make Moyle a better place. I wish you and your loved ones a truly happy, peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year.

 This week’s Quiz Question (answer next week):  How many gifts were given in total in the ’12 days of Christmas’?

 Last week’s Answer: Jacob Marley was Scrooge’s dead business partner In Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol.

You can follow Dónal on twitter @CllrDonalC or contact Dónal at cllr.dcunningham@moyle-council.org, or 07745168922

 





Lá an Dreoilín

26 12 2014

St Stephens Day Wren

Lá an Dreoilín (Wren day) is celebrated in Ireland on 26 December, St. Stephen’s Day . The Wren celebration is likely to have descended from the Celtic Samhain mythology The tradition consists of “hunting” a fake wren. The captured bird was tied to a pole and kept alive and paraded through the town or village by mummers who collected money for the wren’s release, as the popular mummers’ parade song states ‘A penny or tuppence would do it no harm’.  The money was used to host a dance for the town or village, held that night. Enjoy Lá an Dreoilín – Happy St Stephen’s Day.





Beannachtaí na Nollag

24 12 2014

 

 Nativity-scene

For most of us, Christmas is a time when we look forward to spending quality time relaxing with family and friends.

However for others Christmas can also be a difficult time. It can be a painful and sad time for many families, particularly for those who have suffered bereavement over the past year. I would encourage the community to rally around these families, friends and neighbours and provide them with the help and support that they need.

In my role as Council Chair I have seen at close hand, not least in the community campaign to save the services at Dalriada Hospital how well the community can work together and how their work can contribute to the social fabric of our society, making this a better place to live and bonding us all together.

 I wish everyone in Moyle a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2015.





Chairman’s Diary 22/12/14

24 12 2014

DIARY header

On Friday afternoon the Dalriada Hospital community, patients, staff, doctors, nurses and the wider community got the early Christmas present that we had all waited for, when communication came through confirming that as a result of the interim relief achieved in the judicial review process, the proposal to ‘temporarily close’ the hospital had been withdrawn and that the Department had instructed the Northern Health and Social Care Trust not to proceed with the public consultation.

 I cannot thank solicitor Peter Guzhar and his company Carson McDowell highly enough for the confidence they showed in this case.  I remember speaking to Peter at the close of the public meeting in Sheskburn Hall on the 3rd November, when he intimated that he felt we had a strong legal case and would be in touch about mounting a legal challenge. Thanks also to Counsel (David Scoffield and Donal Sayers BL) and the many others whose help and research contributed to the success of the legal case.

 Understated as ever, in an email Peter talked about the “incredible and humbling experience it was to have been involved in such a challenge” and how inspiring it was “to see the generosity of spirit of our community that rallied together in the most challenging circumstances”. Peter it is us who are humbled to be associated in any small way with your efforts, you have been the peoples champion.

 I have no doubt that the efforts to maintain services at Dalriada Hospital will remain a long term fight. It is therefore important that we continue to maintain our momentum and focus on longer term solutions. The Community campaign will remain strong as we concentrate on future service provision.

 In the meantime The Northern Trust needs to acknowledge and reassure patients and the public that services at Dalriada Hospital are safe, well managed and able to cope with demand. Dalriada Hospital plays an essential role in the Acute Health Sector, Intermediate care beds provide a valuable opportunity for recovery and rehabilitation particularly after a period in hospital for an older person, who no longer needs acute medical care but does require some intensive support to regain confidence and mobility.

 Future investment in Dalriada Hospital would do much to maintain and improve health service provision. The Health Minister needs to make the Dalriada Hospital part of his strategic vision and realise its potential for the creation of a spectrum of services which can be locally accessed.

 Protest

To mark the New Year and the continued resolve required to see Dalriada as a centre of medical excellence, there will be a parade leaving the Dalriada hospital car park at 1.00pm on Saturday 3th January 2015. The parade will proceed to the sea front before returning to the Diamond. The campaign group are keen that all local sports clubs, scouts, Boys and Girls Brigade line out in their uniforms and club colours. Please make the necessary arrangements to be there in big numbers.

 Cinderella

 It is a very long time since Ballycastle has had its own pantomime so I was delighted on Saturday afternoon  to attend the matinee performance in the McAllister Hall, of the specially adapted version of ‘Cinderella’ written by Caroline McAfee and Lee McLaughlin and performed by local community drama group Quadrangle Productions. Quadrangle deserves great praise for this tremendous production – they had the audience singing, dancing and laughing throughout. There were so many fine performances, reminding us all of the talent we have within our local community. Hopefully pantomime remains part of the Ballycastle Christmas calendar. Well done Quadrangle.

 

Inter-denominational Carol Services

Ballycastle’s proud tradition of interdenominational Carol Services continued on Tuesday night with a wonderful Carol service in St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Ballycastle and then on Sunday evening in the Holy Trinity Church in Ballycastle Diamond.

Tuesday night reminded us just how truly inspirational St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Choir are, they continue to consistently produce high quality performances and are a major contributor to parish life. We can be rightfully proud of their contributions led by organist Pat Black and Conductor Siobhan Mullin.

Holy Trinity Church in Ballycastle Diamond started life in 1756 as effectively a private chapel for the Boyd family and estate, perhaps now it performs the role of civic church. It is a beautiful setting for any ceremony. I always look forward to their Christmas Carol Service where organist Margaret Brown provides a beautiful arrangement of carols.

These inter-denominational Carol Services bring to life the true meaning of Christmas and bring great civic pride to the Ballycastle district. They are a great example of how the Christmas message can be shared amongst the denominations and can help embrace difference, heal divisions and enable reconciliation. Thanks to everyone who made these services possible and also thanks to all three congregations who offered their collections to the ‘Save the Dal’ campaign.

 Silent Night

 On Wednesday evening the pupils from P4 to P7 at St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School presented a performance in the Chapel telling the story of Josef Mohr and the creation of the much loved Christmas  Carol ‘Silent Night’. This was an ambitious venture and the pupils put their all into this performance and their efforts really paid off. Well done to Mr Kinney, Mrs McCormick and everyone else involved in this wonderful night.

 African Children’s Choir

 On Thursday evening the African Children’s Choir gave a concert in St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Ballycastle and then on Friday called at the Dalriada Hospital to share their performance with the staff and patients. The choir composed of children aged 6-12, many of whom have lost parents through war famine or disease,  brings inspiration to listeners; the children are radiant with hope, musically gifted and wonderfully entertaining. They represent all the children of a continent and they demonstrate the potential of children to become strong leaders for a better future.

   Christmas   

 As Christmas and the New Year approach, can I again ask you to think about our neighbours particularly those who are unwell, those who have been bereaved, the elderly, the vulnerable and those who feel lonely, and be a good neighbour in this season of goodwill.  I wish you and your loved ones a truly happy and peaceful Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

 This week’s Quiz Question (answer next week):  In Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol, who was Scrooge’s dead business partner?

 Last week’s Answer: The song White Christmas was first performed in the 1942 film ‘Holiday Inn’

You can follow Dónal on twitter @CllrDonalC or contact Dónal at cllr.dcunningham@moyle-council.org, or 07745168922

 





Quadrangle bring Christmas Pantomime back to Ballycastle

20 12 2014

 Cinderella

 

Speaking after attending the afternoon matinee performance of their very own version of ‘Cinderella’ by local community drama group Quadrangle Productions in the McAllister Hall, Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham paid tribute to the group and their tremendous work.

“Quadrangle deserve great praise for this tremendous production – they had the audience singing, dancing and laughing throughout.

There were so many fine performances, reminding us of the talent we have within our local community”

Cast

Jack……………………Sandy Cole
Jill………………………Danielle Brown

Mildred Grimm (Ugly Sister)……………………….Michael Duffin
Gertrude Grimm (Ugly Sister)……………………..Caroline McAfee

Mrs Grimm……………………………….Carol Warren
Fairy Godmother…………………………Deirdre Goodlad
King Colm………………………..Dominic McAfee
George (King’s Advisor)…………………Daniel Gormley
Prince Theo……………………………………Lee McLaughlin

Cinderella…………………………………….. Kellyann McKillen





Dalriada Hospital must be part of our future

19 12 2014

 

dalriada[1]

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor and Chair of Moyle Council Dónal Cunningham while welcoming the announcement by Health Minister Jim Wells which will allow the admission of new patients and the return of use of the MS respite beds up until March 2015 has stated Minister Wells needs to go further and ensure that Dalriada Hospital remains an integral part of the Northern Trust’s plans going into the future.

 “The Northern Trust needs to acknowledge and reassure patients and the public that services at Dalriada Hospital are safe, well managed and able to cope with demand. Dalriada Hospital plays an essential role in the Acute Health Sector, Intermediate care beds provide a valuable opportunity for recovery and rehabilitation particularly after a period in hospital for an older person, who no longer needs acute medical care but does require some intensive support to regain confidence and mobility.

 “Investment in Dalriada Hospital would do much to improve maintain health service provision. The Health Minister needs to make the Dalriada Hospital part of his strategic vision and realise its potential for the creation of a spectrum of services which can be locally accessed.”