Ballycastle Collection for Syria crisis

31 10 2015


This weekend’s after mass collections taken up by Ballycastle St.Vincent de Paul will be for the Concern Syria appeal, Contributions can be gift aided and every £1 raised can be matched by the UK Aid matching fund.

From the Concern website: –

The humanitarian suffering caused by the ongoing conflict in Syria is staggering. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and more than four million people have fled to neighbouring countries since fighting began in March 2011.
Concern has been working in Syria since 2013 and, thanks to the kindness of our supporters, we have been able to provide emergency support to families caught up in the conflict, as well as help refugees in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Turkey.
Fleeing violence
These neighbouring countries are now home to millions of innocent victims of Syria’s brutal conflict. Most live in temporary shelter and are in desperate need of food, water and other basic necessities. While children want to get back to school and continue their education.
Life must go on
Millions more people remain in Syria surrounded by fighting and struggling to work, learn or buy food and supplies
You can help
With your support we can reach out to many more families devastated by conflict. Your donation will help deliver vital emergency supplies and clean water to people in desperate need within Syria and surrounding countries. Your gift could help a whole family in crisis:
• £10 can provide four families with water purification tablets to give them clean drinking water for one month
• £30 can provide a family with a hygiene kit consisting of buckets, water storage containers, laundry soap and soap for personal hygiene to last for three months
• £50 can give eight people access to free or subsidised bread for four months

Rathlin Energy terminate exploration licence

21 10 2015


From the Rathlin Energy website


It is with much regret that I have, as Chairman of Rathlin Energy Limited, written to the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) giving notice to terminate our petroleum licence PL3/10, related to the Rathlin Basin. The licence, granted in 2011 for 5 years, will terminate on 14 January 2016.

The company has been involved in Northern Ireland for almost 12 years, believing there to be the potential for the discovery of oil and/or natural gas in the Rathlin Basin, Co Antrim. However, we have reached a point where there no longer remains sufficient time, under the initial phase of our Petroleum Licence, to complete the planned program of work. Against the background of severely depressed world oil prices we have had to make important strategic decisions, and in view of all the uncertainties we face in Northern Ireland, especially in terms of the unforeseeable delays to our future operations, we have concluded that we cannot justify further work on our Licence at this time.

The immediate cause for our decision is the length and complexity of the process for securing planning permission for the second exploration well we need to drill to evaluate the results of our first well at Ballinlea. That was drilled in 2008 and recovered crude oil, although not in commercial quantity. We submitted a planning application for the second well in June 2013 and, regrettably, we have no sense of knowing when there will be a determination of the application.

The business of oil exploration in Northern Ireland, a region with little past history of the industry, was always going to be a technical challenge, and the risk of disappointment very high. It is therefore particularly regrettable that, notwithstanding the encouraging signs of oil we have found at Ballinlea, we are not going to be able, for reasons which have nothing to do with geology or our technical operations, to continue our work.

At all times Rathlin has sought to conduct its business with integrity, to fulfil all our obligations punctiliously, to work closely with our local communities and to cooperate fully with the planning authorities and all the other regulatory agencies.

On behalf of the company and my colleagues I would like to express our appreciation for the support and encouragement we have had from DETI. I would also like to thank all the other individuals and organisations in Northern Ireland who have helped and supported us.

We continue to believe in the potential for Northern Ireland to develop the natural resources which could make an important contribution to the security and economic benefits of energy supply. After all the work we have done, including a significant investment in the local economy, we very much regret that the conditions needed to support the development of oil and gas potential do not currently appear to be present in Northern Ireland.


21 OCTOBER 2015

Syria: the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation

14 10 2015


Text from email recieved Trocaire’s Humanitarian Officer

Dear Donal

Fadi is a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, before the war he had a good life in Syria – he was an engineer and enjoyed living with his family and close to his friends. He never wanted to leave home but as he watched his country implode around him and the death toll rise from thousands to hundreds of thousands he had no option but to make the tragic decision to leave his country, a decision so familiar to so many Syrian people.

My name is Noelle Fitzpatrick, I am Trócaire’s Humanitarian Officer and I have met Fadi, and many others who are living in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Many of them have nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Today, Fadi lives in Lebanon. His home is only a two hour journey and although he longs to travel back to his country one day, he knows it is a journey that he cannot make. For Fadi, the prospect of returning home has now become little more than a distant memory.
Like so many others, he is now so desperate that he is considering risking his life to get to Europe.
“I die a little bit every day here,” he told me. “If there is even a 50% chance of making it alive to Europe, it is a risk worth taking”.
Please Take Action Now.
By supporting our Refugee Crisis Appeal you can help provide food and shelter to refugees that have been forced to flee their home. Even a small donation can help us to deliver life-saving support.


Noelle Fitzpatrick
Humanitarian Officer

Donate Now

Connor Duncan selected to fight North Antrim Assembly Election

5 10 2015
Eugene Reid, Connor Duncan, Dónal Cunningham

Eugene Reid, Connor Duncan, Dónal Cunningham

The SDLP has selected 28 year old Connor Duncan as its North Antrim candidate in the forthcoming Assembly Election.

Mr Duncan was chosen at a selection convention attended by SDLP members in Dunloy on Sunday afternoon. The meeting was addressed by SDLP Leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP and former Executive Minister and North Antrim MLA Sean Farren.

Mr Duncan said:

“I’m delighted to have been selected by the party to fight for the people of North Antrim. I have no doubt about the challenge ahead but I am confident that we can put a progressive voice back in the Assembly to deliver for our area.

“Politics at Stormont has stalled. People here know that, we’ve been acutely affected by a loss of jobs that has devastated families and communities across North Antrim. Our local health service facilities are under constant threat of closure. People here are waiting on the benefits of peace. It’s time to break that deadlock and deliver change. That means we need a change of representation, a change of political leadership at Stormont. I believe I can be part of that change.

“In the weeks ahead I’ll be knocking doors, talking to people and building on the work of the party across North Antrim. I look forward to bringing a positive message to hard pressed households across this constituency and with the support of good people who deserve better, we will deliver for North Antrim.”

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan publishes the Strategic Planning Policy Statement

1 10 2015

mark h d

In essence, this is ‘the go to guide’ for everyone involved in the local planning system. The SPPS reduces 20 separate planning policy statements to one. This provides the policy on key issues such as town centres and retail development, building in the countryside, creating and enhancing shared space, tourism, telecommunications and housing.

Significantly, it also sets in black and white, for the first time, as policy, no to unconventional hydrocarbon extraction, often referred to as fracking. This could only change in the future if the Department is satisfied that there is sufficient and robust evidence on all environmental impacts of fracking.

Mark H Durkan said: “Publishing the SPPS unlocks development potential, supports job creation and will aid economic recovery but not at the expense of our planet, environment and people. It consolidates over 800 pages of existing policy in to a single document and brings clarity and certainty to important planning matters throughout the North.

“Significantly for the first time, no to fracking is actually enshrined in policy unless there is sufficient and robust evidence of its safety on all environmental impacts. I believe this is a sensible and reasonable approach.

“The SPPS introduces a revised strategic direction for Town Centre and Retailing Policy. It advocates a ‘town centres first’ approach to the location of future retailing and town centre uses which will support and sustain vibrant town centres across the North.

“The SPPS will enable councils to be flexible in bringing forward planning policy tailored to local circumstances through their new Local Development Plans.

“The overall objective of the planning system is to further sustainable development and improve well-being for the people of the North. I believe that planning is fundamentally about creating and enhancing shared space, places where communities flourish and enjoy a sense of belonging, both now and into the future. I am confident that the SPPS and the return of planning functions to councils will help achieve that.”

Commenting on the process in producing SPPS the Minister said: “Consultation on the draft SPPS promoted a lively and constructive debate on the appropriate planning policy context for the introduction of the newly reformed two-tier planning system which came into effect on the 1 April. I have listened to what people have had to say, and taken into account the comments received. As a result, I believe the final SPPS has been much improved. There were significant issues raised which were beyond the scope of finalising the SPPS, particularly in relation to strategic policy for renewable energy and strategic policy development in the countryside. As such, I now intend to undertake a full review of these matters. This review work will incorporate extensive engagement with key stakeholders.”

Mark H Durkan concluded: “This key document will help ensure that the planning system delivers for all now and for future generations.”

Welcoming the publication of the SPPS Roisin Willmott, the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Director for Northern Ireland commented: “This is good news for our members and for Northern Ireland. The much anticipated SPPS will be a catalyst for positive change on the ground. It will greatly aid the preparation of Councils’ new local development plans, providing a clear, practical and integrated policy framework for good decisions in the long term public interest.”