Pride not Prejudice

Another year and the Annual Pride Parade took place in Belfast today with many gay people plus friends, family and supporters dandering around Belfast City Centre. 

Alliance took part with Alliance Youth plus 
Employment & Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry MLA, Alderman John Blair, Cllr Conrad Dixon and I present.

With the same regularity another DUP representative again condemned gay people earlier this week, this time describing the people who take part in the Pride Parade as repugnant. Another DUP MLA previously used the words “immoral, offensive and obnoxious” concerning gay people whilst an ex-DUP MP previously used words “disgusting, loathed, physical disgust, nauseous, shamefully wicked, vile, an abomination” when describing what she felt about homosexuality.

Sponsor my run for East Africa

A famine has now been declared in parts of Somalia. Over 10,000 people have already died from starvation and disease with more than six children under five per 10,000 dying each day. Over 10 million people are at risk in East Africa due to conflict and some areas being affected by the worst drought in 60 years.  

Whilst I often run I rarely seek sponsorship. With such a disaster occurring I am keen to make a contribution and thus will be running
Dublin Half Marathon on 17 September 2011 and am seeking sponsorship for the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal

You can make your donation online at 
http://www.justgiving.com/andrewmuirni or in person when you next see me.

Cllr Thompson continues campaign to save Johnny the Jig

North Down Alliance Councillor Larry Thompson has welcomed news that NI Environment Agency (NIEA) hasn't yet made a final decision whether to de-list Holywood's Johnny the Jig statue.

Commenting on the matter Cllr Thompson stated "Following recent enquiries it is apparent that NIEA are closely examining all matters including the signficant local opposition expressed to date before convening a formal meeting to determine whether the statue should be de-listed. I welcome this news that the de-listing is not a 'done deal' and hope that common sense will prevail.

Concluding, Cllr Thompson stated "I again urge NIEA to re-think their proposals and avoid removing this important protection. I also urge anyone interested in the matter to contact the Built Heritage section within the NI Environment Agency to make their objections to de-listing known. It's important NIEA are left in no doubt whatsoever that local people oppose their propoals and wish to Save our Statue.

Johnny the Jig is an iconic statue by Rosamond Praeger, a well loved and respected local artist, which forms part of Holywood’s identity and should remain listed."

Cashless society remains a dream

Last week I had to visit a Bank Branch to try and get my address changed. During my visit two customers requested large cash withdrawals totalling £1,000 in one instance and £1,400 in another. Each customer was unsuccessful since they needed to provide Photographic ID and only left with £500.

A few days earlier the UK Payments Council decided to abandon their plans to ban cheques after complaints from many people citing the problems these plans would have caused e.g. payment of fees and deposits to Schools by parents and donations to local charities etc. would all be inhibited. For those lucky enough to have such an item your Blankey Blank Cheque Book and Pen will continue to serve a useful purpose!

Portavo Preservation Group established

Portavo Reservoir - Photo from Save Portavo
Reservoir Facebook profile

A new organisation, Portavo Preservation Group, has met for the first time and is drawing up a plan of action to save Portavo reservoir for future generations of anglers, walkers and environmentalists.

Speaking after the first meeting of the group last night, Alliance Councillor, Andrew Muir, said: “While Northern Ireland Water has deferred the sale of the reservoir until 2012/13, we need to look at ways to ensure it remains in permanent public ownership and is not sold off. 

“Neither the Department of Environment nor Northern Ireland Water incurred any expenditure in acquiring the asset and have had minimal expenditure in its maintenance over the years. It was the ratepayers of Donaghadee who bought the reservoir in the first place, so why should we have to pay to keep it for public use?

Life as a Councillor One Year later

Last year on 8 July 2010 I was appointed as an Alliance Party Councillor on North Down Borough Council for the Holywood DEA replacing Dr David Alderdice. A year on I feel it's appropriate to look back on achievements and experiences to date and towards the future.

Since becoming a Councillor my life has been transformed, all my spare time has been zapped, sleep is a luxury and my home is now Holywood after moving from Bangor in February 2011.

Whilst demanding I still enjoy the role. Over the last year I have become more acquainted with more people, personalities, procedures and policies and think I have managed to establish myself as a credible elected representative.

Cyclists celebrate Bike Week

Mystery Ice Cream Cycle Team
Cyclists from across North Down got on their bikes and celebrated Bike Week 2011 through a variety of events.

Fifteen cyclists participated in a Mystery Ice Cream Cycle on Wednesday 22 June 2011 cycling from the McKee Clock, Bangor to Carnalea and then back to the Banana Boat for a tasty ice cream. Cyclists then cycled to Ballyholme as part of the event which was organised by Friends of the Earth and Sustrans and supported by Bike Works.