Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Muir welcomes plans for historic Holywood Building

I welcome plans recently submitted by Lacuna Developments to save the historic building at 1 Stewart’s Place in Holywood after campaigning the save the building for the last number of years particularly from July last year when the building partially collapsed causing closure of nearby busy Bangor Road.

Following the partial collapse in July last year I had great fears Holywood was again on the verge of losing a real jewel in our built heritage crown but following relentless efforts I am delighted to see plans submitted which will see the building restored to it's original glory.

New development planned
 Working alongside Holywood Conservation Group a brighter future has been secured for the building which rightly drew much ire from Holywood traders and residents alike as a result of the traffic chaos the road closure caused.

Through dogged determination to get the road re-opened and a real passion for saving our built heritage I am delighted to have played a part in saving this listed building and commend Lacuna Developments for the courage shown in taking on this building and pursuing plans which will hopefully turn this site into another great Holywood landmark. I look forward to working with the new developer and seeing this project through to completion.

Listed in the 1970s, the building is the other part of the ‘Stewart’s Place pair’ and forms part of the Holywood Conservation Area, but unfortunately the property has been on the Built Heritage at Risk Northern Ireland Register for a number of years. It’s other half, No 3 Stewart’s Place was restored by Hearth Housing Association in 1993.

Stewart’s Place is thought to have been built around 1840 by William Lowry, with numbers one and three forming a pair of three-storey stucco houses with rounded corners and were named after the first post-master of Holywood Hugh Stewart

Story at 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The time for journeys has long since passed

The following letter appeared in the County Down Spectator on Thursday 22 June 2017

I write in relation to the recent erection of flags for illegal terrorist organisations such as UDA, UFF, UVF and Red Hand Commandos. Erected with seeming ease across North Down the flags now fly from lampposts across as our Borough providing a blatant challenge to the Rule of Law.

Like the overwhelming majority of law abiding citizens across North Down I am fed up seeing paramilitary  flags, insignia and murals erected and want them gone, for good along with all paramilitary organisations of whatever shade.

Over 22 years after the ceasefires these proscribed paramilitary organisations plus their Republican counterparts should have long since gone away but rather than packing up and standing down they have chosen to yet again mark out territory and remind us of their menacing presence with apparent impunity.

At times like this it incumbent for all in political life to speak about against this activity and call for the immediate removal of such, whether by those who erected the flags or by statutory agencies, with the support of the Police.

Thus far the DUP locally have been silent on the matter. Not one elected representative has called for removal despite repeated calls. I would therefore urge the DUP locally to break their silence on the matter and join me as an important first step in calling for the immediate removal of all paramilitary flags without equivocation or the usual reference concerning the need to give these organisations space to complete their journey. The time for journeys has long since passed. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Muir thanks Alliance voters for support at General Election

Team Alliance at Election Count
Whilst concerned to see the further polarisation of politics I was delighted to see Alliance Party vote locally in North Down increase both in percentage terms and votes cast, compared to the last Westminster General Election.

The continued support from everyone who placed their trust in me and voted Alliance is greatly appreciated as we continue to strive for reconciliation in a shared, inclusive, open, welcoming society.

I would also like to congratulate Lady Sylvia Hermon upon her re-election as MP for North Down and wish her well as she works in the new Parliament as the only MP from Northern Ireland not aligned to the government and taking her seat whilst UK faces extremely challenging decisions ahead in relation to Brexit and other matters.

Congratulating Lady Sylvia Hermon upon
re-election as MP
My passion for positive, progressive and pro-European politics remains alongside Alliance desire for urgent restoration of devolved Assembly. We hope other parties join us in getting the devolved institutions up and running again without delay. Northern Ireland deserves better than current stalemate and party political bickering.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Use your vote positively

Councillor Muir and Alliance Party Leader
Naomi Long MLA
This election will be one of the most important for generations. The next government will have the vital task of ensuring the Brexit negotiations deliver the best possible deal for Northern Ireland and the UK generally

It is important voters recognise, and reject, the attempts by the DUP to bring the issue of a border poll into this election. This scaremongering is yet another desperate attempt to distract from the real issues, whether they be restoring devolution, creating jobs and protecting our Public Services.

As the Alliance candidate for North Down I offer a strong pro-EU view on what is best for Northern Ireland. We benefit greatly from our membership of the EU and there is real fear many businesses and farmers will be badly affected following Brexit.

On other issues, I strongly support an open, welcoming and inclusive society which treats all citizens equally and values contributions made by people from other countries who choose to live and work in Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Royal Mail delivering Second Class service - Muir

I have hit out at Royal Mail for delivering a second class service for the people of Holywood after the removal of two Post Boxes in the area.

The Post Box at Station Road, Craigavad was removed in 2016 and has yet to be replaced with Royal Mail refusing to even meet to discuss the issue. A recent complaint raised by myself to the Postal Review Panel watchdog has also now been refused.

The Victorian Post Box at Seafront Road, Cultra was also decommissioned just before the Easter Holidays and is now painted black with the aperture closed and local people still waiting for a new box to the installed nearby.

Despite the strong support expressed by local people across Craigavad for the Post Box to be replaced via Petition Signatures and letters of support I am dumbfounded to learn that the Postal Review Panel are unwilling to intervene.

Their refusal to consider locating the box at the new location kindly offered by a local resident on the basis that any future owner may ask it to be moved lacks any logic with thousands of Post Boxes across the UK already on private land. Idea that people should travel back in time and visit the Folk Museum as the nearest location to post a letter is ludicrous.

Whilst profoundly disappointed I remain undeterred and will continue the campaign for the people of Craigavad to receive the First Class service they deserve. A reply is now awaited from Royal Mail after Ards and North Down Borough Council unanimously agreed to call upon the company to reinstate the box.

With regards to the Post Box at Seafront Road, Cultra, the front door of the historic Victorian Post Box at Seafront Road was removed shortly before the Easter Holidays by Royal Mail citing corrosion.

Sadly the corrosion is now considered beyond repair and, as a result, it has proven necessary to decommission the box, paint it black and close the aperture to prevent further usage. Whilst I am disappointed about the decision to abandon the traditional bright red look I can understand the decision taken.

I cannot however comprehend the length of delays being encountered to provide a replacement nearby. I will continue to lobby for speedy replacement in advance of the quoted timeline of 8 to 12 weeks and will not rest until a red box reappears.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

In the running for election as Alliance North Down General Election Candidate

I am absolutely delighted to be selected to stand for Alliance in North Down in the upcoming Westminster election on June 8.

In little under six weeks, people across the United Kingdom face one of the most important elections of our time.

We must choose whether to continue along the road the Conservative Government, aided by the DUP, is determined to take us on, delivering the hardest of Brexits, with closed borders, polarised politics and economic uncertainty on the horizon.

I am seeking election in an effort to give the people of North Down the opportunity to signal a desire to change direction away from this destination by choosing an Alliance Party candidate firmly committed to an open, inclusive, prosperous and ambitious future within Europe.

With seemingly endless elections and on-going deadlock at Stormont I entirely understand the real sense of frustration felt by many. Never before have we seen such unprecedented events, casting aside the old certainties and norms.

I am however passionate in my belief that we can and must change direction to ensure the extremes don’t dictate our future. Only by voting for the positive progressive vision offered by Alliance can we strengthen the liberal centre ground and deliver a positive alternative to the divisive agenda of others.

I love North Down, am proud to call the place home and really looking forward to the campaign ahead.

North Down Alliance Councillor since 2010, previous North Down Westminster Candidate in 2015 and Mayor of North Down 2013/14 when undertook over 700 engagements under theme ‘Working as One’. Previously Alliance Party Chairperson and President, currently leader of Alliance Party group on Ards and North Down Borough Council. Outside politics, Andrew works as a Project Manager with Translink and is a keen runner, competing for North Down Athletics Club for a range of events including Belfast City Marathon on Monday 1 May 2017.