Mayor Muir : Working as One we can keep North Down moving on

My formal Mayoral Installation Dinner took place on Thursday 26 September 2013 at the Town Hall, Bangor attended by North Down Councillors, community representatives and Alliance Party members – including guest speakers Party Leader David Ford MLA and East Belfast MP Naomi Long with entertainment from Priory Integrated College Holywood Choir.

Minister Dr Stephen Farry MLA, Mayor of North Down
Cllr Andrew Muir, Naomi Long MP Alliance Deputy
Leader and Alliance Party Leader Minister
David Ford MLA at Installation Dinner
Speaking during the night I detailed that I am determined to ensure my year is characterised by change, progress and delivering an enduring positive legacy for everyone.  I dream of a shared, integrated and accepting society, why not?

I also spoke about my background with a proud Orange woman as his Grandmother, renowned Trade Unionist as his Great Grandfather and a late Grandfather from a devout but yet ecumenical Catholic background.

As a Mayor from working class mixed marriage minority background I aim to show that politics can deliver for everyone.

Tomorrow North Down Borough Council will celebrate its 40th anniversary, October 1. We have much to be proud of, including the ability to provide a forum for democratic debate when violence ensued outside, the provision of a world class Marina, state of the art recycling centre and now the amazing Aurora Aquatic and Leisure complex.

North Down Borough Council has consistently delivered good value for money to local ratepayers through a coherent partnership based power sharing approach. New North Down and Ards Council will provide us with a great opportunity to expand, reach out and improve how services are delivered locally. Conscious Community Planning power will soon be devolved and keen to make a positive difference as the penultimate Mayor of North Down I have adopted Working as One as the theme for my year.

Having now been in post for over three months, I also shared some of the lighter moments of the role so far, including the ‘armless fun’ of being fed to hungry sharks by Council officers in the new Aurora pool to promote the screening of Jaws.

Whether it be building One Community or promoting sport or growing the economy through a focus on skills and creativity I have already delivered a number of initiatives in each area and look forward to delivering more.

Full speech below

Mayor's old bicycle recycled

I am encouraging the public to recycle more than just newspapers and plastic containers after recycling something that would never fit into any blue bin – my old bicycle!

I was ready to dump his old bicycle when I realised it could be recycled and receive a new home following refurbishment. After submitting it to local cycle maintenance shop it was refurbished and is now in use by crew of Gerd container ship!

After donating the bike it was refurbished and given to Pastor Sam from Seamen’s Christian Mission who then gave it to a person on one of the many International Ships that dock in Belfast Port. I am delighted to see my old redundant bicycle recycled, refurbished and given a new home to those in need.

Anyone can recycle their old bicycles easily by dropping off at Bangor or Holywood Recycling Centre’s who will then, in turn, donate to those in need in Africa following refurbishment by a local organisation. A full list of items that can be recycled, from paper to cans and cartons can be found at http://www.northdown.gov.uk/Resident/Bins/Bin-Types Please check often as the list is reguarly expanded and updated.

2nd Officer Dante Alfonso onboard Gerd Container ship provided a thank you message detailing “We, crew of MV GERD thank so much Bangor’s Mayor and help of Pastor Sam and Paul Smith from Bike Smith for the bike donated to us. It’s now easy to go to the city to buy our needs. Thank you so much, God Bless you All.”

Photo above of Cook Joseph Punzalan (L) and 2nd Officer Dante Alfonso (R) from Gerd Container Ship receiving Councillor Muir’s recycled bicycle on behalf of the crew

Mayor supports Thinkspace App initiative

Thinkspace Northern Ireland activists
Jordan Earle L & Matthew Carson R and I
I turned the Mayor’s Parlour into a Thinkspace on Friday 13 September 2013 pledging my support for the new initiative designed to encourage young people to try software development as a career.

Thinkspace is an initiative seeking to encourage schools to establish a “Thinkspace” within the school for young people to explore and develop software and apps in light of the high demand for such skills as Northern Ireland transforms towards a knowledge based economy.

I encourage all schools plus the Departments for Education and Enterprise to consider this new initiative, backed by major figures such as Apple Founder Steve Wozniak, Google Chief Vic Gundotra, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales and Richard Branson.

The benefit of software and apps to businesses and the public sector clear with customers and citizens able to access information and purchase items in a much more convenient manner. 

Thinkspace Northern Ireland activists 
Jordan Earle L & Matthew Carson R
With 35% of NI consumers accessing the internet from a mobile phone (OFCOM 2012), 60% of NI consumers own a Smartphone (Mintel 2012) and NI tablet computer capital of UK with almost one in three households owning one tablet the need to develop skills in this area is apparent.

Mayor supports One Book Mental Health Initiative

Photographed at an event to mark the finale of 
‘The Health in Mind One Book’ campaign
 in Bangor Carnegie Library on Thursday 12 September, 
was: (from left to right): Lynda Bryans, journalist, broadcaster 
and patron of Aware Defeat Depression, Darren Gowdy, 
Health In Mind Project Manager
Mayor of North Down Council, Councillor Andrew Muir
 Dr Chris Williams, Professor of Psychiatry & Honorary Consultant 
Psychiatrist at the University of Glasgow and member 
of the One Book selection panel plus  Author 
Colin Bateman and  Helen Osborn, Director with Libraries NI
I supported the Libraries NI The Health in Mind One Book Initiative on Thursday 12 September 2013. The scheme is supported by Action Mental Health, Aware Defeat Depression, Mind Wise, Cause, Public Health Agency and Libraries NI.

Helen Osborn (Director of Library Services, Libraries NI), Lynda Bryans (Aware Defeat Depression Patron), Colin Bateman and Mayor Muir were present at the event.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry as chosen as the One Book to promote understanding and awareness of Mental Health issues and importance of well-being.

I found the book and event extremely valuable way to engage in positive discussions about mental health and wellbeing issues. For far too long we have considered mental health matters taboo subjects. By reading the book and engaging in open conversations we can hopefully realise ambition arising from The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry to “do something out of the ordinary, take a journey, renew contact with someone, look at strangers with a new perspective.

The story from the book and Thursday’s event must be that life is a Journey with Ups and Downs but in the midst of this journey we must dare to dream, keep connected and never undervalue Cup of a Tea and Chat. More information can be found at www.yourhealthinmind.org

Mayor's putting prosperity and peace over party politics

Mayor of Belfast and North Down at Belfast City Airport
I was delighted to meet with Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir on the boundary of both boroughs recently at Belfast City Airport and look forward to working with him over my year as Mayor along with the new Mayor of Ards prioritising partnerships, prosperity and peace over party politics.

Only by Working as One can we can realise the momentous opportunities available and create an open and welcoming environment for businesses by providing courageous civic leadership for everyone.

Belfast City Airport is one our most valuable transport assets, particularly for business passengers. This vital transport hub ensures that businesses across Belfast and North Down are a flying success. I am determined to work with the Airport and key stakeholders to address concerns and provide a more stable and secure future for this valuable economic gateway.

Northern Ireland's economy still faces many difficulties, but by bringing people and businesses together, we can facilitate collaborative solutions to promote growth, develop skills and retain talent.

I am pleased that the Lord Mayor shares my passion for providing more sustainable transport routes. I look forward to working closely with him to explore the feasibility of the Belfast to Holywood Greenway as a sustainable solution offering big benefits to both Belfast and the North Down Borough.

Mayor supports local Dragon's Den Enterprise

Mayor Muir and Damien McGrane from Takker
I have publicly my pledged support for a local enterprise led by a former Irish Dragon’s Den contestant, who has contracted with local businesses Denroy Plastics and Whale (Munster Simms Engineering) and supported by South Eastern Regional College (SERC) plus Invest NI.

Entrepreneur Damien McGrane from Takker Ltd was welcomed to the Town Hall last week on Wednesday 11 September 2013 along with Patrick Hurst, Whale Managing Director and John Rainey, Denroy Plastics Chairman & Managing Director.

Takker have designed a hand-powered drilling device for hanging pictures, mirrors and much more onto any hard wall without requiring the use of electric drills, screws, hammers or nails in seconds. The fully working prototype was produced using a 3D printer supplied by Whale and the finished product will be manufactured at Denroy.

The demand for the new product is expected to be significant coming from both home and export markets. The Hard Wall Takker is already attracting serious interest from retailers and even TV shopping channels.

I am personally delighted to see such a wide range of organisations coming to together to assist in the development of a world first DIY patent pending product. It demonstrates clearly the benefits of early stage collaboration between companies and support organisations.

With 25% of the production funding required already pledged via the crowd sourcing website Kickstarter the new Takker device could soon be on our shelves bringing to an end the stress often associated with hanging items on the wall. I have already made a pledge and you too can also pledge and help make the Takker product possible by visiting http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1816874779/hard-wall-takker or www.takker.com .

Minister clarifies Portavo Reservoir Future

Cllr Andrew Muir at Portavo Reservoir
The future for Portavo Reservoir has been clarified by the Minister for Regional Development Danny Kennedy MLA during a joint meeting with North Down and Ards Mayors on Wednesday 4 September 2013.

I met with Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy MLA as Mayor of North Down along with Councillor Stephen McIlveen, Mayor of Ards to find out more about Portavo Reservoir amid concerns it would be sold off on the open market during 2014/15.

With recent correspondence from NI Water indicating plans to sell Portavo Reservoir during 2014/15 many people were legitimately concerned that the Reservoir would soon be sold, public access end and local people denied right to enjoy this wonderful environmental asset forever. With the Reservoir transcending North Down and Ards Council boundaries a joint meeting with respective Mayors and the Minister responsible was therefore arranged and has clarified plans for Portavo.

We were informed that whilst no plans exist to sell during current financial year no guarantees can be offered for future years and that first step would be to offer to other public bodies, including local Councils, who will then have to make a formal decision concerning whether to develop a Business Case to procure from NI Water or refuse the offer. Thereafter if no public bodies interested would move to sale via open market.

Whilst not ideal, at least the future is now clear and relevant bodies and people can prepare to engage and lobby NI Water and Department for Regional Development to ensure correct outcome.

Mayor supports SERC students & NUS-USI

Councillor Muir at Bangor SERC Freshers Fair
with Hanna McNamara (Left) and
Sarah Wright (Right) NUS-USI Officers
I visited SERC Bangor Campus on Tuesday 3 September 2013 to support the Annual Student Freshers Fair and find out more about issues faced by students today.

As a previous student of ‘Bangor Tech’ I felt at home visiting SERC Bangor Campus, discussing issues faced by students and how the college seeks to support the welfare of people attending SERC campuses across County Down.

I was particularly grateful to meet Hannah McNamara, Further Education Officer for NUS-USI, Student Union Secretary for SERC Bangor plus Sarah Wright, Welfare Officer for NUS-USI and look forward to supporting the work of NUS-USI, SERC Students Union and SERC generally during my term as Mayor.

Mayor launches Craig Art Exhibition at North Down Museum

I launched the James Humbert Craig exhibition last week at North Down Museum. The exhibition will run from 3 Sep 2013 - 28 Nov 2013 See link for more details about Opening Times. Notes from my speech below outlining biographical history of Craig.

James Humbert Craig or Jimmy, to his friends, was born in Belfast on 12 July 1877. His father Alexander Craig was a tea merchant. However, it was from his mother Marie Sabine that he inherited his artistic flair. Marie Sabine Metzzenen came to Ireland from Switzerland with a school friend whose family were Belfast shipbuilders she met Alexander and they married in 1874.

When James was a child the family decided to move to Bangor where they built a house named 'Craigwelyn' on the Ballyholme Road. Their second home in the town was 'Craigalea' (160 Groomsport Road) which was demolished in 1986.

Jimmy was an incredibly talented man with many hobbies. A friend once said "Jimmy Craig was not only a good painter; he was a good fellow, a good sport, a keen loser and a jubilant winner on the football field". Craig was a founder member of Bangor Rugby Club. He was also an accomplished musician who played on occasion with the Belfast Philharmonic Orchestra. However, it was a love of the sea which he could combine with his passion for art that overtook it all. Jimmy enjoyed sailing, fishing and a daily swim even in winter.

At the age of 14, Jimmy was apprenticed to his father's business which he disliked.  He was often found by his father or members of staff hidden away among tea chests painting.

He first exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1915. His early work reflected his time in County Down with depictions of places such as Bangor, Groomsport and Clandeboye.

In 1919 he purchased Tornamona cottage in Cushendun where he would paint for the rest of his life. A blue plaque was unveiled on the cottage in 2009.

Craig was selected to represent Ireland in the Art Competition 1932 of the Los Angeles Olympics. Sadly he came away without a medal but one reviewer commented "his refined technique and his brilliant and pure translucent colours, mark him out as a craftsman with a great future".

Craig never painted for money or followed trends. When anyone asked him about other artists he simply answered "sure, aren't we all doing our best?" He painted whenever the mood took him and that included abandoning whatever he was doing at any time if inspiration struck.

Throughout his life he travelled for inspiration and shows. He also made several expeditions to Switzerland, France (Savoie and Provence regions), Belgium, Holland and Spain. He had regular one-man shows in Dublin, Glasgow and London at renowned galleries such as the Royal Academy.

While he enjoyed travelling the continent, Ireland was the only country he really wished to capture especially Counties Antrim and Donegal. He himself said "if painters only knew the charm of the Glens they would come from all parts of the world to depict them on canvas".

His last trip was to paint in Donegal where his health failed him. He returned to Cushendun where he passed away on 12 June 1944. He is buried in Layde Parish Church in the heart of his beloved Glens. As his brother-in-law Stanley Prosser said "Even on his last journey to paint in Donegal, he could not rest until he was back in the Glens."

In November 1948 Jimmy's widow Mrs Annie Craig donated the painting 'Glendun, Cushendun' to Bangor Borough Council (later NDBC). This marked the beginning of the Council's beautiful collection. In Annie's will a further twelve paintings were bequeathed to the Council on the condition they "set aside a suitable room to be known as 'Craig Room' and that no other paintings pictures prints etchings lithographs or photographs be hung displayed or exposed in such room". Bangor alone was selected for such a generous gift which shows the link between Jimmy and the town.

The collection was enhanced in 1960 when Sir Percival Brown donated a portrait of Craig by Maurice Wilks, while 'The Antrim Hills' was presented by Mr Brice in 1963. The room, formerly the library of Bangor Castle continues to be called 'The Craig Room' to this day.

Mayor launches North Down Youth Forum

Mayor of North Down Councillor Andrew Muir
along with Council Chief Executive Trevor Polley and
North Down Youth Forum members at
Town Hall, Bangor Council Chamber
I launched the new North Down Youth Forum on Saturday 7 September 2013 hosting their inaugural meeting at the Town Hall Council Chamber along with Council Chief Executive and Town Clerk Trevor Polley.

I was delighted to launch this new forum and look forward to working with the North Down Youth Forum to hear their views and respond accordingly. 

At a time when far too many young people are seeking a future outside Northern Ireland I am keen to hear the views of young people and respond. Establishment of the North Down Youth Forum is therefore another positive development valuing views of everyone, young and old.

Muir supports new Stonebridge Cycle Path Greenway plans

As a keen cyclist, Sustrans Cycling Ranger, North Down Cycling Club and Athletics Club member I find the recent request from local campaigner Louis O'Keeffe that government explores feasibility of re-opening Railway Line between Conlig, Newtownards and Donaghadee for walking and cycling both  innovative and welcome.  

At a recently convened meeting with Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy MLA to discuss the idea on Wednesday 4 September 2013 we received a positive response with willingness to explore the project via a multi-agency meeting which is currently being arranged.

Re-opening the Railway Line could deliver amazing benefits enabling people to walk, run or cycle across scenic County Down Countryside benefitting local communities via the health benefits derived and the economy with local cafes now booming in Comber following opening of the Comber Greenway.

Associated with the idea is safeguarding all the Stone bridges along course of Newtownards to Donaghadee Railway Line as Scheduled Monuments, especially the endangered Stone Bridge beside the Green Road, Conlig.

The Stonebridge in Conlig is a valuable historic asset and must be protected as one part of Northern Ireland's rich Railway Heritage. Together with other historic elements along disused Railway lines they reflect our Industrial Heritage and should be cherished and enjoyed by future generations.

I look forward to working with Louis O'Keeffe to progress the ideas along with the Mayor of Ards and other parties. Working as One we can deliver real positive change for everyone.

Stonebridges Facts

Belfast and County Down Railway Company opened the line. A Construction Company 'Edwards' building it. Opened: 3rd June 1861 and Closed: 24th April 1950. Owned then by: Ulster Transport Authority.

Length: Site of old Comber Station to site of old Newtownards Station (The College): 8.5 km / 5.3 miles approx. Ards Station to site of the old Donaghadee Station (Youth Centre): 13.4 km / 8.3 miles approx. Total = 21.9 km / 13.6 miles

This train line took the average travel time on opening from 5 - 6 hrs from Donaghadee to Belfast, by horse and cart, to less than an hour via Stream Train (Ards Council publication document says 40mins). Later an experimental Diesel Electric Train made by Harland and Wolff also served the line too.

Building wise only a Goods Shed at the site of Comber Train Station remains  preserved as Comber Fire Station and the Station Masters House at Ballygrainey (privately owned) but there were Stations at Newtownards, Donaghadee, Ballygrainey and also Conlig for a short time (19th Century only).  A Halt on the Millisle Road was also used and numerous Stone bridges were employed - foot, over, vehicle but only a few Stone Bridges remain.  All due to the dismantling of the line and subsequent enterprise both public and private along the 22 km / 13 and a half mile stretch of line.

Of the remaining structures only a few pieces have been listed (two bridges near Donaghadee) though there is some hope this may soon change!

The Stonebridge Project that's just being set up hopes to do three things to transform the line that some seem to want made redundant:

Heath - to enable people to cycle walk or for those with limited mobility, to have a safe environment for travel, discovery or enjoyment of the countryside areas in which it travels.

Heritage - to enable people to access this important piece of our heritage, have it saved, conserved and also put to a good public use again.

Habitat - to ironically provide a habitat for the plants and animals that would have been abundant around many parts of the line when it was first opened and for people to have access to this fast disappearing part of our wee country. A life line if you like for wildlife.

First steps ask for the listing of all remaining heritage.  Eleven bridges so far that need this protection as Scheduled Monuments.  Though immediate statutory protection I feel is needed on three which are in danger.  Green Road, Ballycrochan and Ballyrickard Bridge, Moat Road, Comber.

More information can be found at the Stonebridges Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/stonebridge2013?fref=ts

Mayor visits RNLI Bangor

Photo of Mayor Muir on board
Bangor Lifeboat with two volunteers 
I visited Bangor RNLI Station on Monday 2 September 2013 to find out more about the work undertaken and provide public support for the volunteers and staff.

My interest in the RNLI dates back to 1984 when I watched the then new Bangor RNLI boathouse open along with my Mum and Sister on a cold day, just after I was collected from Primary School. Nearly 30 years later the RNLI remain a key part of Bangor and the Belfast Lough ensuring maritime safety for many.  I was therefore glad to publicly support the courageous and selfless service by all the volunteers and staff associated with Bangor RNLI and urge people to consider how the support this valuable organisation.

I personally support the RNLI by making a donation each time the boat is launched via subscription to the RNLI Mobile Text Message update service. Every time the lifeboat is launched you receive a text message and make a small donation! You can sign up at http://rnli.org/howtosupportus/otherwaystohelp/digital-extras/Pages/SMS-launch-alerts.aspx 

Bangor first received a lifeboat in 1965 originally based at the Tower House, Quay Street, Bangor which now accommodates the Town's Tourist Information Office.

The RNLI received a new boathouse at the Harbour in 1984 from North Down Borough Council and have been based at the same location at the bottom of the Eisenhower Pier since then, with a new boathouse built on the same site in 2002, again provided by North Down Borough Council. The RNLI were awarded Freedom of the Borough by North Down Borough Council in 2010.

Mayoral support for FASA

I visited FASA offices in Bangor on Wednesday 28 August 2013 to find out more about the organisation and explore how to support their work.

With Suicide, Self Harm, Alcohol, Drug and Substance Misuse serious issues of concern for everyone across society I felt it useful to find out more about key issues and work being undertaken. 

Locally we still have key issues to address to reduce Alcohol, Drug Substance Misuse and provide a better, brighter future for all, reducing Suicide or Self Harm and increasing the general well-being for all. 

I look forward to working with FASA over my Mayoral year providing leadership and support to realise the hopes and dreams of many for a new future devoid of the problems encountered to date.

Mayoral meeting with Woodland Trust

Alderman Anne Wilson, Mayor Muir
and Patrick Cregg
I met with Woodland Trust representative Patrick Cregg in Bangor on Friday 23 August 2013 along with Alderman Anne Wilson to receive a briefing on key issues of concern and explore opportunities for action during my Mayoral term.

I greatly enjoyed meeting Patrick. Both Anne and I were amazed to hear about the thousands of members the Woodland Trust boasts in Northern Ireland. 

Working as One we hope to promote aims of the Woodland Trust and highlight Northern Ireland’s low forestry cover to provide impetus for action”. Northern Ireland has 7% Forest cover compared to 33% across Europe.

Mayor supports unique Holywood Goldsmith

I attended Opening Evening for Eddie J Doherty Goldsmith’s at the Old School House, Church Road, Holywood on Friday 30 August 2013 as part of my support for North Down's Creative Industries.

Photo on the right features me with Sarah McAleer, Bangor Jeweller (Left) and Eddie J Doherty (Right). 

More information on for Eddie J Doherty Goldsmith’s can be found by visiting www.eddiejdoherty.com or telephone 028 9042 7865

On Yer Bike Mr Mayor!

I took my Mayoral Bicycle from Holywood to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter along with many others on Saturday 31 August 2013 as part of Sustrans United Kingdom wide “Pedal On UK” celebration of the completion of a £50M Big Lottery funded programme - “Connect2”- which opened up walking and cycling routes throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Holywood cycle was one part of a four “spoke” Northern Ireland group of cycle rides on Saturday from Ballymoney, Newtownabbey and Comber into the Titanic Quarter.  Sustrans held a lively range of fun cycling themed activities in the Titanic Quarter from noon onwards.

As a keen cyclist, Sustrans Cycling Ranger and North Down Cycling Club Honorary member I was delighted to join other cyclists on the leisurely cycle to Belfast last Saturday. 

We were able to accommodate all abilities with cyclists aged from 6 to over 60 demonstrating how easy it is to get “On Yer Bike”! 

With more investment planned to accommodate cycling from Bangor to Holywood initiatives such as the Pedal On UK cycle ride help to raise awareness and put the wheels in motion towards the Bicycle friendly Borough many desire.

Mayor pushes the boat out and embraces sailing

Mayor Muir (R) with Alice Armstrong –
Ballyholme Yacht Club (Centre) and
friend Johnny McGrath (L) attached.
I jumped on board, pushed the boat out and learnt to sail recently with both Royal Ulster and Ballyholme Yacht Clubs.

Keen to find out more about sailing after attending various events at each club I joined crew onboard Enigma to compete in Royal Ulster Yacht Club race on Thursday 22 August 2013 finishing fourth.

I then sailed in a Laser Bahia with the guidance of Ballyholme Yacht Club Training Manager Alice Armstrong on Saturday 24 August 2013 along with friend Johnny McGrath.

With sport one of my priorities as Mayor under the theme "Working as One" I am keen to lead by example and push the boat out in order to encourage others to embrace active living. Working as One we managed to get home safely on each occasion moving around Belfast Lough and Ballyholme Bay embracing the wind to complete the courses set out.

I greatly enjoyed the experience and look forward to taking part in more sailing lessons and sporting events throughout my Mayoral year. Many thanks especially to Alice Armstrong, Training Manager, Ballyholme Yacht Club and Alan Espey, Rear Commodore, Royal Ulster Yacht Club for making these events possible.

Mayor Muir extends Céad míle fáilte to Holywood Irish Society

Mayor Muir with Holywood Irish Society
I hosted Holywood Irish Society at Bangor Town Hall on Wednesday 21 August 2013 extending a Céad míle fáilte by delivering most of my speech in Irish.

In existence since 1921, their aim is the non-political promotion of the Irish language through a range of events and initiatives, as well as by giving grants for young people to be able to spend time in Irish speaking areas of County Donegal.

As Mayor of North Down I feel very privileged and proud to have hosted the Holywood Irish Society at Bangor Town Hall. They have successfully masteblack the ability to promote the Irish language to the community at large in a non-political manner in their 92 year history.

Through lectures, exhibitions, classes and social events, they have strengthened and enhanced Holywood's identity as a vibrant open and welcoming town.

Working as One we can encourage people to learn from our shablack past to build a vibrant shablack and integrated future. Linguistic diversity strengthens us and I look forward to working with groups from all backgrounds during my term as Mayor. We should embrace, celebrate and encourage the  diversity that exists in our society.

Irish Language classes take place every Tuesday evening in the hall behind the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church on High Street, Holywood via Hibernia Street Car Park beginning Tuesday 17 September 2013. Beginners Class Tuesdays 8pm, Improvers Class Tuesdays 7pm, Advanced Class Tuesdays 8pm. Further information available via 028 9039 7875. Irish Language and Céile Dancing also take place from Thursday 12 September 2013 at the Parish Centre, Brunswick Road, Bangor 6pm to 9.45pm.

I delivered following speech