Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Price McConaghy Stepping Down From Moyle District Council

Here is Price performing one of his final duties - unveiling some new Ballycastle sculptures - not only as Chairman of Moyle District Council but also as a local councillor. The Ballycastle Chronicle reports on his decision to step down from this public service role after fifty four years as an elected representative.

Price is flanked by the sculptor, Malcolm Robertson, and NITB's Brian Connolly.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Ballycastle Marina Facility or Yacht Club?

The EU funded Sail West Initiative [pdf file] is the result of an extensive collaboration of over 20 partners from the West of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Supported under the INTERREG IVA programme the initiative aims to encourage the development of marine tourism across the entire region, through a targeted capital investment programme in key marine infrastructure and a concerted marketing campaign.

The Sail West capital investment programme will provide a necklace of highly developed boating, angling and marine tourism related infrastructure aimed at increasing visitor numbers to the Sail West region. This investment programme will be backed up by an ambitious marketing programme aimed at promoting the Sail West region as a must-visit marine and cultural tourism destination.

The Council has received funding from the EU Interreg Programme of €695,975. The Council has set aside a contingency of £70,000 towards the capital cost of the building. .. Council spokesman

[click images to enlarge]

A yacht club is on the Ballycastle Town Partnership's long term plans [pdf file]. The replacement building for the former harbour office which is currently under construction might be more than just a marina facility.

Ground Floor Plan

Are these ground floor facilities exclusively for the use of the marina clientèle? This use would appear to be similar to that for the shower block on Rathlin Island. Perhaps other visitors to Ballycastle would appreciate the use of such amenities.

First Floor Plan. 

I'm told that, on reflection, Bar should have read Counter-top. However, the top floor facilities could easily be transformed into a yacht club with a bar and dining area for members. The balcony would provide a splendid viewing area for the commodore and the members.

I'm also told that the first floor facilities will be let out to community organisations despite the assertion in the planning application that the facilities relate to the harbour. Why was this information not included as part of the 'full and accurate description'? Do the plans conform to the requirements of EU 'Sail West' funding?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ireland Exhibited to England Vol II and UJA Vol VII

Also click on Ulster Journal of Archaelogy Vol VII January 1901

Click "Read Online" on the left panel and the book opens. There's a search box at the top. If the word you are looking for is in the book a flag or flags appear. Clicking on a flag opens a page and the searched for word is highlighted.

There are links to similar resources on the right hand panel of NALIL blog.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

New Ballycastle Promenade Sculptures

Unveiling - Monday 28 March 11 am

Flying Fish: "Leap of Faith"

Flying Fish II: "Leap of Faith"

Mutiny on the Bounty

Picasa Albums with Location Maps

Friday, 11 March 2011

Belfast Burial Records Online

Click > Search for a burial record

The search facility is very simple to use - all you need to begin is a surname, or part of a surname.

By providing a forename(s), initial or year of death or burial, you can narrow your results further - however, these are not essential to search for a record. If you aren't sure of the exact year of death or burial, enter the first three digits of the decade - for example, 198 - to only display records from that decade. 

Thursday, 10 March 2011

HM Coastguard CC - Mike Penning - House of Commons - Thursday March 10, 2011

"An unpublished draft report seen by the News & Star, handed to Government ministers on December 10, featured a map which did not include the Liverpool base. It listed just five bases and not the seven needed to carry out a viable consultation on the plans."

There are 18 co-ordination centres at present which provide 24/7 coverage; there's also a centre in London; the map shows the isolated local pairs. The plan is to have 24/7 national coverage from Maritime Operations Centres in Aberdeen and in the vicinity of Southampton as well as from a sub-centre in Dover. Other sub-centres would operate only at times of peak demand. The three preferred sub-centres are Falmouth, Swansea and Humber. The other two would be Belfast or Liverpool and Stornoway or Shetland. [Liverpool and Stornoway allegedly were not in the original draft]

"Bill McFadyen, the MCA's regional director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, admitted at the [Bangor] meeting that he was not handed a copy of the proposals until after they had been finalised."

North Wales Daily Post: "Public anger was exacerbated when it emerged parts of the risk assessment of the plans were only written after the consultation began, after MPs raised concerns.

And there was fury when a major Commons debate on the cuts due to be held yesterday was postponed until March 24 [since extended to May 5], the day the consultation was due to close."

Where am I? Isn't Bangor in Wales?
Look out - there's a blogger about
Blame him!!

The protest march will start at Brixham's South Quay at 2pm and march to the coastguard station at King's Quay to make a stand against axing the rescue co-ordination centre with the loss of 24 jobs.

Cllr Ellery said: "This fight is not about jobs, it's not about Brixham, it's not even about fundraising — it's about lives, our lives, the people of South Devon and Torbay who work on, live with and enjoy the coast and the sea."
HM Coastguard CC - Mike Penning - House of Commons - Thursday March 10, 2011                                                                                           

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Commissioner for Public Appointments NI - Investigators Conflict of Interest?

Sensitivity: Confidential

Commissioner for Public Appointments NI - Phil Holder and Heather Moorehead                                                                                            

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Police Service of Northern Ireland - Manpower Statistics, March 2011

Police Service of Northern Ireland manpower continues to decline well below the Patten established figures, particularly with regard to constables and reservists.

Although the total of full time officers is just about 230 below the Patten peacetime recommendation the inclusion of student officers disguises a deficit of about 440 constables.

The number of reservists has fallen from the Patten figure of about 1680 to 1135 in December 2009 and it's now under 900.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Rathlin Ferry Saga and the Northern Ireland Audit Office

Who Watches the Watchdogs?
Are They All Too Close To Government?

One task of the Northern Ireland Audit Office is to hold 'Departments and their Agencies to account for their use of public money'. The Rathlin ferry saga and several other projects involving the use of public funds have made some folks wonder if the NIAO has allowed itself to be used as a barrier to the exposure of misgovernment.

Queries about the quality of the Rathlin ferry tendering process appeared on the webpages of Slugger O'Toole in mid-December 2007 and these queries were subsequently brought to the attention of several elected representatives from different political parties. I noted Calmac's apparent unease when the new ferry contract was awarded and shortly afterwards a NALIL reader drew my attention to the aforementioned queries. I updated this blog on June 5, 2008 and numerous blogs have appeared since as the saga has unfolded.

Jim Allister, the then MEP, asked NIAO to carry out an investigation. However, the DRD's Permanent Secretary, Paul Priestly, commissioned a series of 'independent' investigations instead and these culminated in the publication of a report in December 2008, a report that the Committee for Regional Development has yet to scrutinise.

NIAO published its brief review of the DRD report in its Annual Report [pdf file] in May 2009. Following a Freedom of Information request it's now been revealed that Paul Priestly requested alterations to the review while it was being drafted.

Priestly [20 Feb 2009]: "Rather than creating a perception of favouritism the impact of the lapses [in basic good practice]  was that it was difficult, without a formal investigation, to refute the various allegations when they were picked up by politicians."

Was it not the duty of Government to examine the allegations and make good whatever lapses were identified rather than go to whatever lengths were necessary to refute the allegations? The DRD investigation cost £55,000 yet evidence was subsequently found that the new operator had operated the MV Canna without a valid passenger certificate, evidence the investigators failed to detect or report.

Draft deletion: NIAO noted that there were a number of instances identified in the case where there were no paper records of meetings or discussions involving officials. This is unacceptably poor practice.

Surely it's in the public interest that such unacceptable practice should be highlighted by the NIAO, not hidden at the behest of a senior civil servant/Government minister. Failure to speak out permits such practices to continue.

It reminds me of that meeting on September 2, 2009 where NI Water business was discussed by Minister Conor Murphy, Paul Priestly and Lawrence MacKenzie, NIW CEO; Lian Patterson DRD and Stephen McGlade SpAd were also present. A DRD spokesman claims that no minutes/notes were kept and the Public Accounts Committee appears to have been unaware that the meeting took place.

Draft deletion: Three allegations relating to personnel issues were upheld.

This statement weakened DRD's case so it was hardly surprising that its removal was requested. Why did NIAO acquiesce?

Priestly: "You asked for comments on the [NIAO draft] report's factual accuracy."

Were the 'complainants' extended the same courtesy by NIAO? If not**, surely this skews the report in favour of those whom the NIAO accused of 'unacceptably poor practice'. These ‘independent’ reports, flawed as I believe some of them to be, may be used as ‘evidence’ in other contexts.

** They weren't.