Monday, 18 August 2014

Bangor Culture success

I am profoundly grateful to the organisers of Bangor’s Open House Festival. Kieran Gilmore, Alison Gordon and many others associated with Open House have managed to organise a significant series of cultural events throughout the month of August which are creating a real positive atmosphere in a town yearning for change, revitalisation and a new sense of identity.

Last year I asked Council to support my request to establish a Culture Night in Bangor recognising the economic and social benefits derived and the success stories from other towns and cities across the UK and Ireland.

Council thankfully agreed to support my motion and with the commitment, passion and vision of Kieran, Alison, Council officers and others we now have an entire Culture Day planned on Saturday 23 August 2014. I hope many people will engage and enjoy the event which will feature live bands, street-art Busking, Open air tea dance, Open air stage, Record fair, Speciality street market, Craft bazaar and Creative Emporium, Campervan Jam and Street entertainment. Anyone wishing to get involved should email arts@northdown.gov.uk Full information on events taking place at http://www.openhousefestival.com/bangor-2014/bangor-culture-day.html 

With examples across Europe and beyond proving that open, diverse, accepting and culturally rich towns and cities thrive rather than merely survive it is my hope and passionate desire that the Open House Festival and Culture Day provide us with the springboard to revitalise Bangor and build a new prosperous town more and more people are proud to call home.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Muir congratulates McIlroy on another tremendous victory

I have congratulated local golfer Rory McIlroy on his victory in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. Rory will return to the top of the golfing world ranking.

I would like to congratulate Rory on yet another tremendous and hard fought victory. Rory is undoubtedly the best golfer in the world at the moment following this trophy and his Open Championship win, and his return to the top of the world ranking surely proves this to be true.

Everybody in Holywood and Northern Ireland is immensely proud of what Rory has achieved at such a young age. He is an outstanding ambassador for Northern Ireland and his continued success, along with that of Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, is a major boost to brand NI.

I am sure that we will see more success from Rory and I would like to wish him all the best for the future.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Muir welcomes Redburn Country Park upgrades and events

Cllr Muir beside Redburn 5k Trail signage
I have welcomed range of events organised by NI Environment Agency for Love Parks Week which runs from 25 July to 3 August 2014 including Trails Day at Redburn Country Park, Holywood on Tuesday 29 July 2014 from 11am to 4pm which will showcase the new 5k Trail I secured after lobbying the Environment Minister.

After successfully lobbying the Environment Minister in 2013 to secure a 5k trail and £10,000 investment in Redburn Country Park I am delighted to see the new 5k Redburn Trail now being showcased this week. As a keen amateur athlete I am very aware of the lack of trails with steep inclines across Northern Ireland but know that when provided at, for example, Glenariff Forest Park, they are popular and useful places for training in preparation for the many road races across Northern Ireland.

Whilst the top loop track remains to be installed once wildlife situation permits in September all the signage is now in place and the route ready for use. I encourage people to have a try and consider the many other events also organised such as Crawfordsburn Country Park 5k on Wednesday 30 July 2014 evening at 7pm, On Yer Bike event also in Crawfordsburn Country Park on Thursday 31 July 10am to 4pm and the Kite Festival at Crawfordsburn Country Park on Saturday 2 August from 10.30am to 4pm.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Praise for Rory McIlroy’s fantastic victory

I am immensely proud of Rory McIlroy’s fantastic victory after the North Down golfer won the 2014 Open Championship.

This is another fantastic win for Rory, proving yet again his position as one of the best golfers in the world. 

With Royal Portrush set to host the Open in the next few years, Rory’s victory today puts Northern Ireland’s passion and talent for golfing on the map.  He has made everyone in North Down and Northern Ireland extremely proud – especially at his old clubhouse in Holywood.

Rory McIlroy truly is a great ambassador for Northern Ireland and we are all looking forward to following his career as his style, technique and flair continues to dominate golf tournaments in the future.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Nearly £13,000 raised for outgoing Mayor’s Charities

Cheque presentation with from left, Maria Kinney
(Camphill Communities), Glenn Aiken (Camphill
Communities), Cathy Cree (North Down YMCA),
David Seaton (Mark Pollock Trust), Barbara
Carson (Mark Pollock Trust, Mark Pollock's Mum),
Councillor Andrew Muir and Stuart Buchanan
(North Down YMCA)
.
I presented a large cheque on Monday 23 June 2014 for nearly £13,000 to my chosen charities when Mayor of North Down - Camphill Communities, North Down YMCA and the Mark Pollock Trust.

A range of events were organised over my Mayoral year in conjunction with the charities and Council staff including two Business Breakfast events, Antiques Valuation Fair, Golf Day at Bangor Golf Club sponsored by Barclays Bank, St Patrick's Day Musical Celebration, Charity Bag Pack, Raffle at Bangor Business Awards, Football Tournament and a Table Quiz.

Over my year as Mayor I sought to provide positive leadership with a focus on inclusivity, sport & creativity. My decision to support Camphill, YMCA and the Mark Pollock Trust reflected this desire with each organisation focused upon enabling every individual to reach their full potential regardless of age, disability, ethnicity or background.

Working as One we managed to raise the profile of each organisation whilst also raising funds to enable Camphill, YMCA and the Mark Pollock Trust to continue delivering their valuable services. Many thanks to everyone who donated funds and helped make such a successful outcome possible. I am truly grateful and confident that funds raised will help make a positive difference, delivering an enduring positive legacy from my year as Mayor

Three Charities to benefit from the sums raised will each receive over £4,300.

Commenting on sum raised Glenn Aiken from Camphill Communities stated "Camphill Communities NI have enjoyed the experience of working with the Mayor, particularly, when he was so hands-on, making mince pies in our café in Holywood. Also, our unique model of care for people with learning disabilities fitted well with his aim that each individual should be encouraged to reach their full potential. Many thanks to the Mayor from all at Camphill we thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated your support."

North Down YMCA has operating since 1979, is based in Queen's Parade, Bangor and as a faith-based voluntary organisation seeks to put the Christian faith into practice by empowering children, young people, families and communities to flourish in mind, body and spirit.  A spokesperson stated "Over the past year their staff and volunteers have supported over 800 individuals of all ages across North Down through their Youth Development, Healthy Living and Community Engagement programmes. Funds raised will help continue this vital work."

Remarking on the monies collected, Piers White from Mark Pollock Trust commented "At The Mark Pollock Trust we believe that the cure for spinal cord injuries simply requires enough of the right people having the will to make it happen. It is our mission to find and connect those people worldwide to fast-track a cure for paralysis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mayor for choosing Mark Pollock Trust as one of his Charities of the Year. The money raised will help enormously with our objectives and help fast-track a cure for this life changing injury."

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

North Down Schools overlooked again

Cllr Muir with Priory Integrated College Student Council
North Down Alliance Councillor Gavin Walker and I have highlighted our disappointment after schools across the area were again left out of the Education Minister’s latest investment plans.

Despite needing extensive new builds, Priory Integrated College, St Columbanus’ College and others such as Holywood Primary School were labelled not high priority and again missed from the Minister’s latest announcement.

Yet again Priory Integrated College and Holywood Primary School have been left on the backburner – despite in dire need of extensive refurbishment and new school builds.

This has been dragging on for far too long and parents, teachers and pupils deserve action.  The rebuild of Priory approved back in 2008 yet in 2014 still nothing has been achieved and a growing number of pupils are continuing to pass through tired, old buildings while officials get caught up in wider reviews.

Alliance will continue to promote integrated education as an essential part of build a shared and inclusive society for everyone

Councillor Gavin Walker added: “I am extremely disappointed St Columbanus’ College has not been included in the latest round of investment by the Education Department.  It has been waiting a long time for a new school build and absolutely deserves it.

“Whilst part of the Catholic maintained system, St Columbanus’ is a very mixed educator welcoming students from all backgrounds in the area.  The Minister must recognise the excellent work being done by everyone involved in the school to promote an inclusive learning experience for all students.”