Mayor delighted to attend Down GAA Final

I attended the Down County Senior Championship Final at Páirc Esler, Newry to witness Kilcoo beat Burren 0-9 to 0-7 thereby retaining their Down Club title. They will now play Armagh champions in an Ulster club quarter-final on 3 November 2013.

The Gaelic Athletic Association play a positive and welcome role promoting active living, cultural diversity whilst contributing towards the creation of a shared, open and inclusive society. 

I warmly welcome their presence in North Down and beyond and am delighted to have been invited to attend the match. After witnessing Kilcoo win last year it was amazing to visit Páirc Esler once again to see the club snatch victory for a second year in a row. 

As a long term committed supporter of the GAA I look forward to supporting this sporting organisation and local club St Paul’s GAC over my year as Mayor of North Down.

Over 300 fish killed at Portavo Reservoir

I note the initial report recently received from government concerning recent fish kill at Portavo Reservoir in August 2013 and look forward to final report identifying why so many fish died. A total of at least 347 dead fish were recorded following this awful event plus small number of roach and an eel. 

Cllr Muir at Portavo Reservoir
I was baffled by the bureaucracy encountered when I initially tried to report the problem but am glad someone is finally taking the initiative to find out the cause and explore solutions. 

With routine scheduled maintenance due to take place at the Reservoir from November 2013 to March 2014 no more fish will be stocked until 2014 giving us time to sort the problem and help secure a viable long term future for this valuable environmental haven which should be saved not sold.

Response from Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure below.

I refer to your e-mail dated 29 August 2013 to Minister NI ChuilIn regarding correspondence you received, in relation to a fish kill at Portavoe Reservoir. The Minister has seen your email and I have been asked to respond on her behalf.

Following a report of dead fish at Portavoe reservoir on 30 August, DCAL Fisheries Protection Officers, working with Inspectors from the NIEA, carried out a joint investigation of the incident. Initial findings indicated no evidence of any introduced pollution in the reservoir, with natural causes the likely reason for the fish mortalities.

Some of the dead fish were found to be affected by fish lice and a fungus. The approximate fish mortalities total was 94 on Friday, 169 on Saturday and 84 on Sunday. It is important to note that while the majority of fish mortalities were trout, small numbers of other species have also been recorded including perch, eels and roach. A number of dead fish were passed to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Veterinary Sciences Division for investigation of the lice and fungus. Unfortunately they require the fish to be still alive or recently dead and further analysis could not be carried out.

The reservoir was stocked with 750 rainbow trout from the Department's fish farm at Movanagher near Kilrea on 28 August. These were healthy takeable size fish, free from any parasites or infections. Had there been any signs that Portavoe was unsuitable to receive the fish on that date, the fish would not have been stocked.

Fish are sensitive to dissolved oxygen levels in the water and the NIEA staff have taken a number of samples from the reservoir. Dissolved oxygen levels recorded during the daytime were deemed adequate to sustain fish life, however it is at night that the dissolved oxygen levels will be at their lowest.

The NIEA subsequently positioned a water monitoring buoy in the centre of the reservoir to record dissolved oxygen levels over a number of days and information received has indicated that the lake is prone to periods of low oxygen levels. As such DCAL is currently reviewing it's stocking protocols for Portavoe Reservoir.

Significant aquatic weed growth has resulted from recent high temperatures and sunlight and this impacts on oxygen levels in the water. Consequently the Department moved a weed cutting vessel to Portavoe on 3 September and work on removing excess aquatic weed is underway.

When anglers and members of the public contact DCAL regarding such incidents staff will try to be as helpful as possible, but cannot speculate on causes of a fish kill. You will appreciate that until all the circumstances are assessed and investigations completed, staff would not wish to jeopardise any further action by making comments that are not fully informed.

I hope that this information is of assistance to you.

Yours sincerely,

Departmental Private Secretary to Carãl NI Chuilin MLA
Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure

Mayor convenes Housing Roundtable Summit

Mayor Muir with Housing Roundtable meeting
attendees attached at Town Hall, Bangor
I convened a roundtable meeting of all relevant Housing organisations earlier this month on Wednesday 2 October 2013. Various Housing Associations operating in North Down were represented at the Roundtable Summit along with NI Housing Executive and NI Federation of Housing Associations Chief Executive Cameron Watt.

I found the meeting extremely useful to identify key issues relating to Social Housing in the Borough and actions required to ensure North Down is a warm and welcoming place that can provide a home for everyone. 

I was greatly encouraged by the positive progressive view that we should be Working as One to address housing needs together as a society and look forward to providing necessary civic leadership to realise our collective aspirations.

Mayor visits Legenderry City of Culture

Mayor Muir and Mayor Reilly at Guildhall,
Derry / Londonderry after exchange of Borough Crest Plaque gifts
I met with Mayor of Derry / Londonderry Councillor Martin Reilly on Friday 4 October 2014 to explore how the city has achieved such great successes such as UK City of Culture status, peaceful parading season and implementation of one plan for one city.

The People of Derry~Londonderry should be very proud of seismic changes that have taken place. Derry / Londonderry is now a City of Culture, Vision and Hope with One Plan replacing 74 different strategies and plans. 

The collective vision and determination to move forward as a progressive, open and inclusive city based upon a strong focus on culture and respect is extremely impressive. I look forward to meeting Mayor Reilly again and exploring how we can share stories of success between North Down and Legenderry Derry / Londonderry.

Mayor visits North Down Development Organisation

Mayor Muir with Lynne Forde, Co-Owner Baskets Galore
(centre) and Lynne Vance Chief Executive NDDO (right)
I visited North Down Development Organisation (NDDO) on Wednesday 2 October 2013, engaging with staff and visiting local businesses Creative Commercial Interiors and Baskets Galore.

I was extremely impressed by the wide range of successful businesses at NDDO premises and look forward to visiting again as Mayor to meet more and explore how I can provide necessary civic leadership to provide a strong positive environment which allows businesses to thrive.