Chairman’s Diary 22/12/14

24 12 2014

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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the interim relief achieved in the judicial review process, the proposal to ‘temporarily close’ the hospital had been withdrawn and that the Department had instructed the Northern Health and Social Care Trust not to proceed with the public consultation.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.


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.


 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.


 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, or 07745168922





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