Looking forward to inaugural Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

14 04 2013

Rathlin Sound Martime Festival
Paying tribute to the organisers of the inaugural Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has said that he was looking forward to what he predicts will be an incredible week of events.
“A lot of hard work has already gone into planning the event, community groups from both Ballycastle and Rathlin have come together with others to work as a team to ensure the event realises its full potential.”

“The festival supported by “The Gathering 2013” will run from 24th May to 2nd June and will be centred on the Rathlin Sound, the body of water which lies between Rathlin and Ballycastle.”

“For the opening weekend events will focus on the Ballycastle side and then on Rathlin for the closing weekend. During the week long festival the town and island will play host to a wide range of community, cultural and education events and initiatives including sea-food themed events as well as music, drama and films.”

“I have no doubt that this festival will be a success and can grow into a major annual maritime festival. It will be a fantastic cultural event for Ballycastle, Rathlin and the wider region. It will give us all a fantastic opportunity to showcase all that is best in the region”.

“I am particularly pleased that Council has been able to support this event through existing budgets and our Tourism Events Fund.”

Cunningham: Exploratory drilling programme must be fully scrutinised

24 01 2013

Onshore drill to sea 2

SDLP Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has responded with a word of caution to the announcement by Providence the Irish oil and gas exploration company which has found there may be oil potential in the Rathlin Basin.

Mr Cunningham said:“The statement issued by Providence Resources today announcing a future exploratory drilling programme in the offshore Rathlin Basin should be given proper consideration.

“Any proposal must undergo the rigours of a full environmental impact assessment which would examine any possible positive or negative impacts on the environment, consisting of the environmental, social and economic aspects. Nothing must be done to disturb either the outstanding beauty or natural character of the area.

“While I welcome the confirmation that “shale gas” is not the target and therefore hydraulic fracturing “fracking” will not be the extraction technique, it is important to ensure that any development is in keeping with our environment”

“More research is required to ascertain the density of the off shore subsurface and its rock properties”

“It would appear most likely at this stage that an exploratory offshore target in the Rathlin Sound would be accessed from the onshore Ballycastle side with nothing visible above the sea surface. Exploratory drilling is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014. Providence has engaged regularly with the Rathlin island community and I now expect this consultation to be extended to the Ballycastle side.”

“I am keen supporter of the neighbouring tidal energy projects at Fair Head and Torr Head as a safe and environmentally friendly measure of providing energy.

“I look forward to Providence engaging in discussions with all relevant parties before embarking on any exploratory drilling programme.”