Chairman’s Diary 26/01/15

30 01 2015

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Another busy week of community and council engagements as we prepare to bring January to a close.

 Ballycastle Town Partnership

 On Tuesday Night I attended the Annual General meeting of Ballycastle Town Partnership. The aim of the Partnership is to ‘Promote the social, economic and environmental development of Ballycastle’ and create a vision for the future. It was refreshing that at the AGM the Partnership reaffirmed their determination to progress with a number of projects which will help Ballycastle fulfil its business and tourist potential. Included amongst the projects discussed, were the improvements to be delivered to the visitor experience at Bonamargy Friary and the extension of the ‘Tow River’ path. Future projects which aim to provide environmental enhancements in the town centre, improve digital Connectivity and WiFi reception in the town centre were also discussed and will be scoped out by the Partnership to ascertain their viability. With Moyle Council ceasing to exist from the end of March 2015, the Town Partnership will be competing for project funding with a wider range of towns and villages, so it is very important that projects and developments are well planned and resourced, that said I am confident that the Ballycastle Town Partnership will continue to achieve its objectives.

 Save the Dal

 On Wednesday night I attended a meeting of the ‘Save the Dal’ steering group, while we are happy the Dalriada hospital has seen the admission of new patients and the return of use of the MS respite beds, we still need to see the hospital get back to full capacity (patients and staff). Our task remains to ensure that Dalriada Hospital remains an integral part of the Northern Trust’s plans going into the future so that it can realise its potential and provide a spectrum of health service provision which can be locally accessed.

 Burns Night

 On Friday Night I was delighted to join President Sean McKinley and Ballycastle Rotary Club at their now Annual Burns’ Night dinner and mini Ceilidh in the Central Bar Restaurant, Ballycastle. I had never experienced a ‘Burns Night’ dinner before, but I can only say that this is an event I would definitely hope to attend in future years.

The excellent four course meal with haggis, ‘neaps and tatties’ to the fore was fantastic, as was the complimentary dram, as were the various poems, the address to the Haggis and toasts to the ‘Lassies’ and then to the ‘Laddies’, however the highlight for me was the sing-a-long led by the kilted Brian Jamieson and Malcolm Rankin, both of whom displayed a singing talent that I was unaware of. Well worth the entrance money on their own. The night also served as a fundraiser for the Rotary’s very worthy charity ‘End Polio Now’. Many thanks to Sean and his dynamic team of volunteers from Ballycastle Rotary Club for a wonderful night.

 Service for Christian Unity

 On Sunday evening I was glad to play a part in the service of Prayer for Christian Unity organised by Ballycastle Church Action at St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Church. AS I have said on many occasions Ballycastle has an exemplary record on interdenominational work, however we cannot rest on our laurels and need to encourage greater attendance and support for these very worthwhile events.   In a thought provoking sermon, guest speaker, the Rev. Eddie Dorrans, (former minister of Ballycastle Presbyterian Church) emphasised the point that Christian Unity did not mean uniformity and prayed for a unity that was grounded in the richness of our diversity. Historically and even today religious differences and intolerance has been the source of many conflicts and divisions throughout the world despite being contrary to the tenets and values of the Gospel. Many thanks to Ballycastle Church Action for a wonderful service.

 Holocaust Memorial Day

 Tuesday 27 January marks International Holocaust Memorial Day. The date is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Union in 1945. The day is dedicated not just to the remembrance of those who suffered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, but also the many who suffered in subsequent genocides in places such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. This theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘Keeping the Memory Alive’ which gives us all a chance to reflect and oppose all the manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on either ethnic origin or religious belief.

 Tom Walsh

 I was saddened to hear of the death of my former Primary School teacher Tom Walsh. Tom a Limerick native was one of life’s gentlemen, and a source of great encouragement to me during my time in Council. At a time when St Patricks was an all boys primary school Tom instilled in his pupils a love for learning, particularly all things Irish- be it history, geography, culture sport and art. Even in retirement Tom worked hard to prepare general knowledge quizzes for the weekly Ballycastle ‘Over 55’s’ club and the monthly St Vincent de Paul Social Nights. One of Tom’s many legacies is the uniform handwriting style employed by a generation of Ballycastle males; as technology gradually erodes the use of the pen you can still spot Tom’s former pupils by their distinctively neat and precise handwriting style.

 Community Garden Consultation

 Another reminder that if you are interested or have any ideas for the Community Garden project which hopes to develop a community garden in wasteland adjacent to the Tow River at the Quay Road Playing Fields in Ballycastle please feel free to come to the projects public consultation in the Mayor’s parlour at Moyle District Council on Saturday 7th February, any time from 12 noon to 3pm. Please get involved in this very worthwhile and innovative project.

 Glen Rovers Armoy Biggest Loser  

The Glen Rovers Armoy Biggest Loser Challenge continues with as many early morning walks and runs as I can fit in. With the Carey community also involved in their own ‘Fit Club’ and Cushendall repeating their ROBL challenge – the halls, gyms and footpaths of Moyle are awash with walkers, runners and keep fitters at the minute. At the second official ‘weigh in’ on Thursday night unfortunately I recorded a slight blip with a gain of an extra 0.5lb. Week 2 gain 0.5 lbs Total weight loss 15.1lb.

This week’s Quiz Question (answer next week): When is ‘Groundhog’ Day?

Last week’s Answer: Leo Varadkar is the Republic’s Health Minister.

You can follow Dónal on twitter @CllrDonalC or contact Dónal at, or 07745168922

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The Dark Hedges has been nominated as Landmark of the year in the BBC Countryfile Awards.  Can you help us to raise awareness of the campaign and get local people voting? For more information and to vote visit:

 please circulate to friends, family and followers.  Many thanks.


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