Saturday, 14 December 2013

Police Service of Northern Ireland - a 'survival plan'?

Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie** said: "This plan is a survival plan and hopefully it will prove to be our thriving plan, but without 'Service First' the business would fall over. We cannot continue the way we are going because the districts are haemorrhaging resources month on month through natural wastage." .. Belfast Telegraph, 11 December 2013

The DCC's words do sound rather alarmist but I drew attention to the deficit of constables just over four years ago.

Patten had recommended the deployment of 5932 constables in a 'peace-time' context but by December 2009 there were only 5472, a short-fall of 460. The PSNI management reaction to my intervention was to remove the Patten Established Figures from the monthly on-line returns; the monthly returns also went missing for a number of months. There appeared to be a miraculous recovery in April 2011 but it was probably just a typographical error. At present, there are 5313 constables representing a deficit of 619 on the Patten recommendation and that recommendation doesn't take account of the current political turbulence.

The number of reservists has been cut dramatically so this adds to the burden when additional resources are required. Patten also recommended the use of 2540 support staff. Their numbers had fallen to 2318 by December 2009 but are currently 2370.

Added 21 December 2013

Like every other public sector agency we must live within our budget.  We have £135 million of efficiency savings to make in this spending review period, and we are committed to delivering these through our ServiceFirst programme.  We are required to make £48m savings off our baseline costs by March 2015.  This will be very challenging and will inevitably change the way we deliver policing, both locally on the ground and in support functions.  More than 80% of our budget cost is our people and our police and staff numbers have reduced as recruitment has been frozen for the last two years.  But it is clear that there is a ‘bottom line’ of police resilience required to meet the challenges and threats we face.   Following a comprehensive resilience review, commissioned by the Chief Constable, which assessed the current and immediate future threats and risks for PSNI, it is clear that police numbers must be maintained at a minimum of 7000 police officers.  This will require political will to secure additional funding but the consequences for Northern Ireland and Great Britain in the absence of adequate police resilience are potentially severe. .. DCC Gillespie 22 October 2013

Chris Patten recommended a baseline of 7500 full-time officers in the context of 'peace time' operations but this has now been lowered to 7000 despite the DCC's report that 'attacks have included mortars, pipe bombs, shootings [and] booby trap IEDs' and 'paramilitary shootings and assaults continue, on both the Loyalist and Republican side, with 31 victims of shootings or beatings compared to 28 last year.  Terrorist groupings continue to rely heavily on organised crime to fund their activities.'

Added January 16, 2014

House of Commons - January 15, 2014

Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con): Patten recommended that in a peaceful situation, the PSNI should have a minimum of 7,500 officers. Given that Northern Ireland is not exactly in that peaceful situation, owing to paramilitary activity, is the Secretary of State concerned about the PSNI’s ability to recruit sufficient officers?

Mrs Villiers: I am grateful to the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee for his question and his important work on this issue. The current number of officers in the PSNI is 6,795. The Chief Constable*** recently told the Policing Board that the minimum number he needed to perform effectively was 6,963. It is important that consideration be given to how the shortfall can be dealt with, and as I have said, I remain optimistic about the ongoing discussions between the Department of Finance and Personnel and the Department of Justice about resolving that budgetary shortfall.

Whatever happened to those political spokespeople who advocated the adoption of the Patten proposals? Why do they now remain silent?

[** December 20, 2013 - DCC retirement announced]

[*** January 22, 2014 - CC retirement announced]

Friday, 29 November 2013

Department for Regional Development NI - Dear Minister

Model Publication Scheme

All public authorities are obliged under Section 19 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to adopt and maintain a publication scheme.  The idea of a publication scheme is to let everyone know what information will be automatically, or routinely, published by our Department.

To comply with the Act, this Publication Scheme sets out:
  • what information we will make available, classified by type of information; and
  • how you can access the information.

The table below sets out the what information is available through our publication scheme together with links where you will be able to get more information on how to access it.  Most of the information provided in our publication scheme will be freely available for downloading from the Website.  Other information, not available electronically, will be sent, or otherwise made available, by writing to us.

[Which is the big cheese?]

The failures and deficiencies I'm about to outline won't just apply to the Department for Regional Development but that's the department I'm most familiar with.

As I noted in September 2012, Stormont ministers are supposedly following HM Treasury best governance practice ie the Minister should be chairing Departmental Board meetings:
The present arrangement is a much looser one; the DRD Corporate Governance Framework illustrates the separation between the Minister and the independent/non-executive Board members. The Minister and his special adviser join senior civil servants for a Weekly Stocktake and the special adviser participates in the Weekly Business Review but both are absent from the monthly meetings of the Departmental Board.
According to the table mentioned above, minutes of senior-level meetings and reports and papers provided for consideration at senior-level meetings are published on the DRDNI website with a link to "Management & Policy Information - Board meetings"

1. The most recent monthly Board minutes were for 25 June 2013 and they were published following the Board meeting at the end of August.

2. The most recent Weekly Business Review was for 19 August 2013 and, instead of minutes, there's a list of virtually information free 'action points'.

3. There's no link to any reports which may have been considered at these senior-level meetings.

Why isn't the Department abiding by the terms of its publication scheme? Whatever happened to open and accountable government? Reports, of course, should be user-friendly.

Sunday, 10 November 2013


Moyle District Council has launched a new service; this service will permit users to apply for a dog licence on-line. I thought I'd take it for a test drive.

Obviously the first thing for a new user to do is to register:

I clicked the 'Register Here' link, filled in all the required boxes and clicked 'Submit':

Hmmm. If the system has my email address then perhaps it can supply a password - so I clicked 'Forgotten your password?'

Hmmm. There appears to be a glitch in the system!

PS I've blanked out the entries.

Added November 11

This just gets curiouser and curiouser! Even though I was unable to submit my registration - my address was already in use - and my request for a password - my address was not recognised - I have now received a password and  I was greeted by my first name. And they say miracles don't happen!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Ballintoy's Hidden History



On Saturday 2 February 2013 the society launched an exciting project called Ballintoy’s Hidden History, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s All Our Stories programme. Our project was established to explore and tell the story of three less well-known sites in the Ballintoy area, namely Templastragh Church, Ballintoy Castle and an eighteenth-century school at White Park Bay.

These were neglected aspects of our community’s heritage. Very little had been written about these important sites and there was a real danger that the stories local people had about them would be lost if they were not recorded. We were determined to rescue these hidden gems from obscurity and ensure they were given their rightful place in story of our local community.

From the outset, we realised that we needed to collect and record the stories and memories of local people, and present these alongside the information we would glean from archival sources and by surveying the surviving archaeology in our landscape.With the assistance of professional archaeologists from the University of Ulster at Coleraine and Queen’s University Belfast, we undertook a number of different activities between March and June 2013 to gather information about these sites.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Christmas Comes Early for (some) Grammar Schools

John O'Dowd - Minister of Education**

Education Minister John O’Dowd said: “Last year I signalled my intention to establish a School Enhancement Programme. The purpose of this programme was to ensure that we provide the best possible education estate for our children and young people, within the budget available.

“The SEP is designed to enable the refurbishment or extension of existing schools and I am pleased to announce today that 50 schools have been informed that their applications have been successful and will be advanced to planning. This represents a potential investment in the estate of £106million over the next two to three years.”

Examples of projects proceeding under the School Enhancement Programme include the provision of permanent build accommodation to replace mobiles, refurbishment of existing accommodation and the provision of sports facilities.

The Minister continued: “The successful projects are all consistent with the emerging area plans and the scale of the investment underlines my continuing commitment to improving the schools estate. It comes in addition to the major works projects worth £350million I have announced since last summer; in addition to the £31million I have invested in minor works since January; and in addition to the £47million I have earmarked for maintenance this year.

“Today’s announcement is good news for the pupils, staff and school communities involved, as well as being a welcome boost for the local construction industry.”

I've looked at the schools which are to be enhanced, by sector:

Voluntary Grammar [non-denominational] :: 10 schools
Voluntary Catholic Grammar :: 11 schools
Controlled Grammar [non-denominational] :: 0 schools
Controlled Secondary [non-denominational]:: 2 schools
Catholic Maintained Secondary :: 3 schools
Grant Maintained Integrated :: 6 schools

Why do some grammar schools appear to have favoured status over secondary schools and why are there no controlled grammar schools on the list? There's been some speculation that the Education and Library Boards have been given the task of culling surplus provision in the post-primary schools sector and the axe appears to be directed at the controlled grammar school sector.

This ministerial announcement reinforces that view and it's further bad news for pupils, staff and school communities in the controlled grammar school sector.

Is it not a little strange that this financial decision has been taken in advance of agreement on the area plans? But then again the area plans are merely plans by sector cobbled together for each area.

[**It would be ironical if the Minister and the Department, aided by the Education and Library Boards, 'succeeded' in transforming a number of good schools into failing schools]

Monday, 30 September 2013

Five Brave Causeway Fishermen - January 1918

Portnaboe at sunset

Fishing boats at The Brenther

The fishing boats used to ferry visitors to the Causeway were beached at The Brenther at the west end of Portnaboe.

The fishermen were John Weir, William McMullan, David McMullan, Alexander McMullan and Robert Hutchinso

West end of Portnaboe

The Board of Trade has informed us that on the 5th of January last, you, in company with others, rendered assistance to certain of our crew of our steamer, "Knightsgarth", after that vessel had been torpedoed by a German submarine, and we now write to thank you for your kindness on the occasion in question  .. Rea Shipping Co Ltd

Copies of this small booklet:

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Patrick McAleese - Take me back to Tully

I received the following request from a US member of NALIL a few days ago:

"As my Antrim ancestor settled in Brooklyn NY, I have been collecting information on the many Antrim people who also settled there in the 19c. I came across a most interesting newspaper article, including a number of names and locations which may be of use to others. It concerns Patrick McAleese of Lough Giel whose dying wish was that his body be returned there for burial when he died. If anyone can tell me whether he is buried there, I'd like to know the end of his story.

Patrick McAleese died on his 99th birthday, 1 March 1896.

He was born in Lough Giel on 1 March 1797. His parents were farmers, as was he. At age 44 he married Mary McAuley of Belfast, his first and only marriage. They had ten children. His wife and all his children survived him, a remarkable record for the time as you know.

Nine of his children emigrated to America and they finally persuaded their parents to do the same in their old age. Patrick, his wife and several of his children lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where there were many other Antrim people. After two years, he bought a house.

He was a popular figure, taking long walks each day and noted for his erect posture, military bearing and long white hair, curling to his shoulders. He also had a fine tenor voice, singing the songs he remembered from home.

His dying wish was to be buried at home. At the close of his funeral, a cortege crossed the East River to Manhattan and the wharf of the White Star Line's ship, Britannic, headed for Liverpool. The body was to be accompanied by his wife and a daughter. I'd like to know where he is buried.

The above info is from the Brooklyn Eagle, 3 March 1896, p3. Here follows a list of his children, birth order unknown, and their residences for McAleese researchers. All surnames are McAleese unless otherwise noted:

Rev. James, RC priest, Parkville, Brooklyn NY
Daniel, sherriff of Cheyenne County, Nebraska
Helena, 609 Eighteenth St, Brooklyn NY
Bernard, ditto
Patrick Jr, ditto
Mary J., Parkville, Brooklyn NY
Mrs Ellen McMullan, Sidney, Nebraska
Mrs Bridget O. Raw, 425 East 79th St, New York NY (Manhattan)
Mrs Margaret Robinson, 383 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn NY
And lastly, the one who did not emigrate, Kate McShane, Lough Giel, Ireland

I hope you find this interesting and that someone can tell me where Patrick McAleese is buried. 


This is a scan from Griffith's Valuation circa 1860 and it shows Patrick as a tenant farmer in the townland of Tully North in the parish of Loughguile. His landlord is George Whitla and he let a second house in the farmyard to James McKeever.

I obtained details of Patrick's daughter Kate/Catherine's wedding to James McShane in St Patrick's Church, Loughguile in 1879 from a genealogy website and then looked for this family in the 1901 Census of Ireland. They were still living in Tully North but were not in the 1911 census for that townland. Adding ten years to Catherine's age took me to their new home in Ballintoy but by that time her husband James was dead.

I found the two headstones for Patrick and his daughter Kate, side by side, in St Patrick's graveyard and the latter has The Castle, Ballintoy, address.

Should I say to Moyle councillors Cara and Paudie McShane, "Who do you think you are?", I'm not being cheeky but thinking about the TV series and their ancestors from Tully.

Virginia has sent me scans of the Brooklyn Eagle obituary for Patrick:

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3    Part 4

Patrick's son Daniel:

"JOHN DAUGHERTY and DANIEL McALEESE, each served 2 yrs, 1894-1897" ... Lawmen of Cheyenne County, Nebraska.

Patrick's son James:

"In the year when Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, occupied the White House, the Eiffel Tower was built, and the automobile and motion picture machine were invented, a church was born in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Bridge, completed a few years earlier, made it possible for people to work in Manhattan, while living in Brooklyn, which at the time was all country. The community of the time was made up of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and Italy. It was with this background, that St. Mary, Mother of Jesus Church and Parish were born in 1889.

The first bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop Loughlin, summoned the Rev. James McAleese to assemble a group of the faithful to begin the formation of a new parish. On Pentecost Sunday, Fr. McAleese gathered a group in a storefront on the northeast corner of Bay Parkway and 86th Street for the first Mass. For one year the Eucharist was celebrated there in Liggett’s Drugstore." .. Source [pdf file]

Sunday, 8 September 2013

National Trust - B57 Causeway Car-Park FREE Pass

Charging arrangements at the new Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre have proved to be controversial and not always easily understood by visitors.

If you have a local BT57 address then you can obtain a FREE car-park pass by taking a domestic bill to the National Trust Innisfree premises just along the Causeway Road from the centre Visitor Centre reception and completing the application form.

I've not been able to find details of this free pass on the NT website; perhaps it will be added next time the site is updated.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Bushmills - Summer Festival of Culture 2013

Thursday 8th & Friday 9th August

See, Taste, Smell, Hear and Do

Experience various cultures from 
around the world on your doorstep!

3 Venues
[check poster]

Dunseverick Primary School
2 afternoon sessions

Dunluce Parish Centre
Thursday evening

Beside Ballyness Caravan Park
Friday evening

Please pass a link to your friends!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bushmills Dunes - Ballytaylor & Dooey - Lovers' Lane & Purgatory

The Clay Field

Heading north out of Bushmills, 'up the plantin', towards the Giants Causeway you pass the Clay Field. It's been used for generations as a communal gathering place but plans for the Bushmills Dunes golf resort show that this open expanse will be replaced by 75 town-houses and a golf academy complex, sheltering behind a row of tall trees planted along the roadside.

Dan's Lane/Lovers' Lane

Dan's Lane/Lovers'Lane is opposite the main entrance to the Macnaghten estate and stiles show the track of this lane through to the River Bush close-by the railway bridge. Dan was Dan McKinley, a former leaseholder of this part of the townland of Ballytaylor. Some locals continue to walk this route although no longer in the numbers that once used it.

Griffith's Valuation map
Ballytaylor and Dooey circa 1860

This amended 19th century map shows three red arrows pointing towards Dan's Lane and the top red arrow is in the field known as Big Ballytaylor. The track has been ploughed up but at the entrance to this field there were two pillars and a style on the left-hand side until recent times. The field to the left of the middle red arrow is known as Purgatory. The track continued on over a stream into Dooey, past a lime kiln [blue arrow] and on to the style beside the Iron Bridge.

The gate in the fence marks the point where the track continued north, over a stream, from the townland of Ballytaylor into the townland of Dooey.

Circular embankment in Dooey

This embankment is immediately north of the gate in the fence and it overlooks a fine lime-kiln.


"Throughout the whole parish there are numbers of basalt quarries worked for build­ing and other purposes. In the townland of Dooey, on the River Bush and very near the mouth of that river, there is a very valuable chalk quarry." .. Ordnance Survey Memoirs, Parish of Billy, 1830

There might be something of interest in the 1734 maps held by PRONI;

"Ref: T1703/1

Year: 1734

First of two volumes of photostat copies of maps of the Earl of Antrim's estate, in the Barony of Cary, Co. Antrim.

Includes the following: 

Page 57 is a map of the townlands of: Ballymoy, Lower Carnkirk, Ballyalarty* (sic.), Carnside, Ballylynee** (sic.) and Dooey, in the parish of Billy, Co. Antrim"

[*Ballyallaght and **Ballylinny]

The Iron Bridge

This style, close-by the Iron Bridge, marks another point on the path used by local people for generations. Does the path feature in the plans for the Bushmills Dunes resort or is it just another victim in the struggle between public and private space?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Giants Causeway - Save the Causeway Memorial School Museum 3

New information has surfaced since I published blog #2 earlier today. The missing minutes of the NEELB Education Committee held on 11 December 2012 have now been added to the NEELB website but Appendix 8, the Ray Gilbert report** into the Causeway Memorial School Museum which was presented to the committee on 11 December, has not yet been added. Here's a snippet from the minutes:

This agreement to 'commence consultation on the possible closure of the Causeway School' was ratified by the Board one week later, possibly without discussion:

However a letter to a Causeway Memorial School trustee in January 2013 by a Board official tells a different story; here's a snippet:

I can find no mention of this change from consultation about closure to actual closure in the January or February minutes of either the Education Committee or the full Board.

The Minister of Education gave the following response to an Assembly question in February 2013:

Did the Minister mislead MLAs and the general public? Have Board officers closed the Causeway Memorial School Museum without the permission of the Board and without consultation with the stakeholders? Why was it deemed necessary for the Education Committee to go into committee to discuss the Gilbert report? Surely that can't be in the public interest.

Causeway School Museum
Sandford Award Winner 2010

Let the museum continue for another year whilst Board officers consult with a range of stakeholders about options for its future.

Giants Causeway - Save the Causeway Memorial School Museum 2

St Patricks Primary School, Portrush, visited the museum yesterday, 
the last school to visit before NEELB locks the barrier 
permanently at the end of this week.

Here's a fascinating quote from the 2009 annual NEELB report:

"Protecting and Enhancing our Historic Environment

The Causeway School is a Grade B1 listed building, which is defined by the Environment and Heritage Service as a building of local importance or good example of some period or style; it was used as a school from 1915 until 1962. The building transferred to the NEELB and was restored to its present condition. The school is now exactly as it was in 1962 and operates a "Living History" experience for primary school children in term time and as a museum, open to the public, at Easter, in July and August and on afternoons when there are no schools present. As well as all the original artefacts there are two sculptures and two drawings by the famous Ulster artist Rosamund Praegar.

NEELB continues to maintain and conserve the building and has been successful in securing Heritage Lottery funding which is being used for conservation of the artefacts including the Praegar drawings and urgent repairs to the windows. The grant is also funding additional activities, extended opening hours and the use of the building by the local community."

Wouldn't it make you weep?

This requirement from the Information Commissioner's Model Publication Scheme is also relevant:

We would expect information in this class to be available at least for the 
current and previous three years. 

• Standing orders 
Standing orders for the conduct of meetings of the Board and Committees of the Board. 

• Agendas, background papers and minutes of Board meetings and committee meetings 

We would expect Board minutes and the minutes of similar meetings where decisions are made about the provision of services, excluding material that is properly considered to be private, to be readily available to the public. Information presented to those meetings, excluding those elements properly considered to be private, should also be made available.

The museum was mentioned in the agenda - it's online - for the December meeting of the NEELB Education Committee but both the minutes and the the Ray Gilbert report - Appendix 8 - are currently absent. Such behaviour, in my opinion, is unacceptable. The public are entitled to know what is being done in their name - and with their money.

There was an NEELB Board meeting in the Antrim Board Centre yesterday afternoon so I decided to drop in and have a look around. I noted a lengthy tete-a-tete between a senior board officer and two board members in advance of the meeting; I've also noted the absence of an agenda or officer's reports from the website:

I have a copy of the agenda but it's virtually information free when it comes to revealing what is being done in our name.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Old Bushmills Distillery - Of Monsters and Men - Jake Bugg

BUSHMILLS, Ireland, June 21, 2013 /CNW/ - Global stars including Of Monsters and Men and Jake Bugg, together with friends Foy Vance, Willy Mason and Iain Archer, gave electrifying performances last night at Bushmills Live - the festival of handcrafted whiskey and music which took place among the barrels at the Old Bushmills Distillery. .. Source

Friday, 21 June 2013

Causeway Coast - To Frack or Not to Frack?

Temporary works of drilling exploratory borehole to approx 2700m depth to investigate underground strata for hydrocarbon exploration under DETI license PL3/10 issued to Rathlin Energy Ltd.  Also to temporarily widen road into verge along 60m of Kilmahamogue Road to facilitate safe access.

The Causeway Coast is labelled as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but wind turbines are sprouting up in ever increasing numbers and soon they could be joined by oil and gas rigs. Is there a risk that such a landscape for life could end up on life-support?

The Minister responsible for the issuing of extraction licences was in robust mood back in December 2011:

Some comments grabbed my attention:

It is important, therefore, that I emphasise that should these explorations prove fruitful, and lead to a wish to go further and try to extract this valuable commodity, the necessary application for drilling and developing oil or gas will be subject to the full rigour of the Planning system and associated Environmental Impact Assessment process.

In my opinion, the planning system is rather limp when it comes to rigour, even when modestly powerful interests are involved.

Not only might domestic shale gas production help to provide energy independence but it could play a significant role in job creation. I firmly believe that Northern Ireland needs to explore the potential that shale gas offers, to even consider imposing a moratorium at this early stage would reek of a missed opportunity.

Ministers will always wheel out 'job creation' but has there been an impact assessment on job creation in the round? Is it possible that a small forest of oil rigs alongside wind turbines might impact adversely on the tourism sector, another part of the Minister's brief? The 'reek of exploitation' was, perhaps not the best image for the Minister to use as a selling point.

The Minister for the Environment is drifting along in his colleague's wake - February 2013:

The public consultation will ensure that this programme of research delivers a thorough and robust examination of the issues. It is proposed to award funding for research in three areas:

  • Baseline Characterisation;
  • Fracking Operations, Impacts & Mitigation Measures;
  • Regulatory Framework for Environmental Protection.

So which Minister will be the more robust at the Executive table?

The Green MLA paints a picture of the cart rolling along in advance of the donkey:

Officials from the Geological Survey today confirmed that licences granted for gas exploration are effectively contracts and any changes or the rescinding of the licences would be likely to result in legal action by the companies that they were issued to.

“So long as all the companies adhere to the requirements established in their licences, gas exploration and its associated Fracking cannot be stopped in Northern Ireland without legal ramifications for the Department. ..

It is clear that scientific investigations, public debate and scrutiny of gas exploration should have taken place before any of the licences were granted.

Here's a snippet from an email I received recently:

Rathlin Energy have now submitted their 2nd Planning Application for Ballinlea/North Antrim.

They are also calling two Public Meetings as part of this process:

Thursday 27th. June, Mosside Community Hall at 7 pm Friday 28th. June, Ballinlea Orange Hall at 7 pm.

At both of these meetings they will first have some display panels and info boards as well as key staff to talk, and after 8.00 pm they will make a formal presentation on their drilling plans "... including pictures & diagrams, in order to explain what we view as relevant issues to our planning application."

This will be followed by a question and answer session..... to conclude at 9.30 pm. aprx.

Ballinlea Concerned Residents have also called a meeting for Tuesday 25th. June in the Ballintoy Parish Hall, Whitepark Road at 8 pm. (Old school at the junction of Ballinlea & Whitepark Roads.) where we will have a presentation on the potential health impacts of Oil & Gas Exploration [pdf file] by Geralyn McCarron, followed by a discussion. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Giants Causeway - Save the Causeway Memorial School Museum

Don't let the North Eastern Education and Library Board 
sacrifice part of our heritage

CultureNI video

Snapshots of the old lease, including limitations as to use, and some details of the original trustees. [Click 3 dots on bottom right to select All Sizes for a clearer view]

Eleanor Killough**, Executive Officer with the North Eastern Board, commented:

“We are absolutely delighted that the Causeway School Museum has been recognised by such a prestigious organisation. The only other heritage site in Northern Ireland to receive this accolade was the Ulster Museum so we’re definitely in good company!”

“The Sandford Award highlights the importance of the School to local, national and international heritage. It is safe to say we will be celebrating for some time to come!” ... Education News June 2011

[** Eleanor is no longer an NEELB employee]

That was then!

Even though the premises are scheduled for closure at the end of June by the left hand, the right hand, apparently, is still taking bookings. Don't be surprised if a maintenance crew is putting up the shutters or taking out the desks whilst children are enjoying a final session!!!

The closure of this wonderful little museum only became public knowledge in March 2013:

Causeway School future in doubt despite public support

Causeway School Museum to be history

Chairman 'dismayed' by school closure

The proposed closure came like a bolt from the blue to the trustees just two months earlier:

A Board letter dated 28 February announced the postponement of the closure of the school from 31 March to 30 June. I can find no indication of any consultation with other stakeholders or with the general public.

Some of the artefacts will have been gifted, in good faith, by families for display in the museum? Will they be consulted about the fate of these treasures?

The Causeway Memorial School Trust has proposed a one year delay whilst alternative arrangements could be considered by the Board, the Trust and other stakeholders:

Will our elected representatives be able to make Board officials and members see some sense? Give sensible deliberation a chance!

Letter from a Friend - a little history and a proposal for the future.

Sign the petition and invite your friends to do the same

Some Petition feedback:
  • The Causeway School is a unique and valuable resource for local people and schools in particular. As a primary school teacher, with a personal interest in local history, I believe it is the responsibility of bodies such as the NEELB to help support and maintain these kind of projects for future generations.
  • This museum is used by schools from Letterkenny in the west to Lisburn in the south and possibly further afield.
  • This building brings history to life for the children. It is also of historic interest in an AONB so please keep this beloved place open!
  • The Causeway School Museum is a landmark, an architectural gem and an educational resource. It is a place that holds memories for the older people in our community and it creates memories for the young.
  • The Causeway School building is a valuable heritage property that is still positively influencing the people of Bushmills, County Antrim, and indeed the world. I look forward to seeing it during my next visit with Bushmills cousins!
  • My greatgrandfather is commemorated on the Causeway School. We visited again last month and saw the wonderful educational work that is delivered by the authentic visionary inclusive philosophy that it radiates. Unique and irreplaceable.