Marine Hotel vandalism condemned

27 03 2012

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has hit out at those responsible for a vandalism attack in the early hours of Tuesday morning on the vacant Marine Hotel site which saw many of the ground floor windows smashed.

Describing the attack as “a disgraceful act of wanton violence and destruction”, he said those responsible were mindless thugs who were intent on causing disruption and destruction in the town.

“I am disgusted at this incident particularly in a week that saw the formation of a new Ballycastle Community Development Group – therefore it is important that the community continues to promote Ballycastle as a great place to live, work and visit.”

John Dallat’s contribution to “Ballycastle Hotel” Assembly debate

17 03 2012

Members may wonder why somebody from County Derry is taking part in this adjournment debate, but I remind them that Ballycastle is synonymous with the name Dallat. My eldest son was very fortunate to meet a Ballycastle girl, and he lives there. As grandparents, we look forward to visiting Ballycastle on a Sunday, and we have a closer-range experience of the town’s uniqueness.
One thing that has always struck me about Ballycastle, having represented Coleraine for over 30 years where tourism is a big thing, is the absence of an hotel. Having listened to the debate this evening, I will not get drawn into the quagmire of politics. We have been very critical of the media because of its negativity to the Assembly, but, my goodness, having heard some of the statements this evening, we do not need the media.
Of course, we welcome the proposed 120-bed hotel development at Whitepark. My party was very much involved in the creation of the Marine Hotel. I do not know the circumstances of why it is not functioning, but that is a matter of regret. Certainly, the SDLP was involved in promoting tourism in Ballycastle and elsewhere when it was fashionable for some to blow up hotels, but that is in the past.
We had some references to guest houses and so on, and they are, of course, the backbone. However, let us face it: any town of any significance needs a hotel for conferences and other activities. We heard that the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle was used by the Orange Order, the Young Farmers’ Club and the GAA and for funeral dinners, and I have been to funeral dinners there. However, I know from my involvement in Coleraine that a million other things can happen in a hotel.
My colleague Councillor Dónal Cunningham told me in an e-mail just this morning that the local economy needs people to stay overnight. That was the main problem we had in the Causeway in Coleraine as well: creating the incentive for people to spend bed nights in the hotel. So, there is no need to apologize for asking the Tourist Board, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment — I am delighted that the Minister is here — Invest Northern Ireland and any other relevant organisation to promote and help with the creation of the bed nights that are badly needed in Ballycastle, which, of course, is the gateway to the glens of Antrim.
There has been a lot of hype about the Irish Open coming here. I spent yesterday in Portrush and Portstewart with the Minister, who was doing her utmost to promote the area in order to ensure that that opportunity is not missed. There are several other new items on the tourist agenda this year such as the Titanic project, as well as the Milk Cup and the North West 200, the benefits of which spin out into Ballycastle and the surrounding areas. I know from experience that the North West 200 brings people back time and time again. Even during the worst of the Troubles, relationships were formed between people from here and people from England, Scotland and other places. So it is a serious business.
As I say, my heart is in the Sperrins, but I absolutely love the glens of Antrim. I will finish up by entertaining you with a little poem, ‘The Nine Glens of Antrim’:
“There are nine Glens in Antrim, Nine great glens in all; Glenarm is the first one And near Cushendall There’s lovely Glenariff, Glenaan and Glendun And nestling between them Glenballyemon, Glencorp and Glenshesk Come on, don’t be lazy There’s only Glencloy and the last one, Glentaisie.”
My colleagues from North Antrim, for goodness sake, put your full weight behind the issue, back it 100% and make it a success.

Period of reduced rates may progress sale of hotel

11 03 2012

SDLP Ballycastle Cllr Dónal Cunningham has said that Moyle District Council should consider a period of reduced rates if this could progress the sale of the Marine Hotel and Country Club leisure facility in Ballycastle.
He said: “The Marine Hotel has been closed since December 2010 and was only brought to the position of “ready for sale” after a lengthy and complicated period of administration. We have been without a hotel for the entire calendar year of 2011 and desperately need to see a hotel provider before the Easter and summer periods of 2012 pass us by as well”.

“Our local economy needs people to stay over in the town, to shop in our local shops, eat in our restaurants and to drink in our pubs and clubs. The loss of the hotel has dented the confidence of the entire community and its continued closure sends the wrong message to potential visitors and investors”
“Our community needs action to be taken to develop this hotel as early as possible, if a reduction in rates helps to progress this –so be it.”

Marine Hotel – Delays hitting the community

14 08 2011

BALLYCASTLE SDLP councillor Dónal Cunningham has said that delays by the administrator of the Marine Hotel in getting the property “ready for sale” are frustrating the local economy and stifling the promotion of tourism.

  “The Marine Hotel was closed in December 2010 and placed into administration later. Surely within that time the bank and administrators should have been in a position to progress all the required procedures and documentation in order to bring the property to a position where it is “ready for sale”.

“We should not have a situation where the work of the council and other agencies to promote tourism is ‘sterilised’ because of the lack of progress by the Hotel’s administrators. How do we market Ballycastle as a place to visit and stay when we are without the facility to accommodate our potential visitors?

“Tourism is key to the Ballycastle economy and we cannot afford to be without the full time and part time jobs which the Hotel facility provides.

“On top of that the loss of the Hotel’s leisure facilities and in particular it’s swimming pool has deprived the community of a much needed resource. Many people used the leisure facilities on a daily basis and have commented to me on the noticeable effect the closure has had on their health and wellbeing.”

Councillor Cunningham has asked Moyle Council to apply whatever pressure it can to progress the issue.

He added: “The Hotel’s administrators need to act in the interests of the local community – we should not be prepared to tolerate any further delays.”