Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Muir to take progressive politics into Westminster fight

As Mayor of North Down 2013/14 with, from left
Dr Stephen Farry MLA Alliance Minister for Employment
and Learning, Naomi Long MP Alliance Party Deputy Leader and
David Ford MLA, AllianceParty Leader and Justice Minister
I will contest the North Down Westminster seat for the Alliance Party next year, after being officially selected at a special meeting this month.

I will fight to gain the seat currently held by Independent Unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon as a Alliance Party Chair, local Councillor and former North Down Mayor offering a clear alternative to orange and green politics with the vision of a progressive, inclusive, prosperous future.

I am honoured to have been selected to take the Alliance Party’s unique message of a shared future to constituents across North Down.

During my year as Mayor I worked under the theme ‘Working as One’ and was delighted to meet and embrace many different groups and people from across the constituency. This won’t change as I hit the campaign trail ahead of next year’s general election, with my vision of a shared, integrated and inclusive society For Everyone to keep North Down moving forward.

The Alliance Party consistently puts building good community relations first and every decision taken – from our two Ministers through to our Councillors and activists – is put through the shared future test clearly demonstrating we are the party of leadership who do not shy away from difficult decisions, rather than a party of protest or party reliant on tribal prejudicial politics to garner votes.

I am proud to have made history as a Mayor who actively provided leadership For Everyone, especially as the first Mayor to attend a GAA Football match in the Borough and reaching out to many different groups – from welcoming the Orange Order to the Town Hall or actively embracing our rich Christian Heritage in advance of 1,400 Anniversary of St Columbanus death in 2015.

As a Councillor I have always made engaging with local communities a priority and fought to ensure their views were well represented. Over the past few years I have campaigned and secured over £4million to tackle the odour problem at Kinnegar Sewage in Holywood, saved Cultra Station House, increased cycling provision, founded Bangor park run and secured Council support to establish Bangor's first ever Culture Day.

I look forward to taking the Alliance message of a shared future free of intimidation and fear to the wider community across North Down.

North Down Alliance MLA Stephen Farry added: “I’m delighted to see Andrew selected to represent North Down. His diverse background and dedication to making North Down a shared, inclusive society makes him an ideal candidate to counter the tried and failed tribal politics of the past."

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Crawfordsburn Waterfall Walk abandoned

© Copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse
under this Creative Commons Licence
During a recent visit to Crawfordsburn Country Park I was concerned to discover that that the picturesque Waterfall Walk remains inaccessible. I often run the marked 5k trail in the park but a few weeks ago decided to take a detour to view the waterfall. I was shocked to be met with barriers blocking access without any prior signage around the park advising users to consider the alternative route.

It's now apparent that the route has been abandoned by the NI Environment Agency since the bad winter in 2010 with no action since taken to re-establish full access. Rather than repairing the route it's been allowed to wash away into the river after further landslides.


I urge NI Environment Agency to erect signage promoting alternative access to the waterfall without any further delay and present some proposals to ensure Crawfordsburn Country Park's wonderful waterfall walk can yet again be opened up. Whilst work progresses to re-open the Gobbins Cliff Path it's disappointing and frustrating that Department for the Environment seems content to abandon another tourist attraction.

News that the Crawfordsburn Waterfall Walk has been abandoned was recently broken after I asked my Alliance colleague Kieran McCarthy MLA to ask a Written Assembly Question to the Environment Minister.

Kieran McCarthy asked "To ask the Minister of the Environment to detail (i) the length of time that the Waterfall Walk at Crawfordsburn Country Park has been inaccessible; and (ii) the timescale for repair." with Mark H Durkan MLA responding "I have been advised by officials in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, which manages Crawfordsburn Country Park, that a 60 metre section of pathway leading to the waterfall has been closed to ensure public safety since 12 November 2010, following a landslide.

A timescale for completion of repair works cannot be provided at this time. Civil engineers were unable to assure NIEA that the path could be made safe for public use by a short term fix. A long-term solution to address the slope stability issues is required. Options for this are under consideration. However they are limited because a section of the unstable slope is not owned by my Department and any such works are likely to be costly and will be dependent on budget availability. 
Visitors to the Country Park can still access the waterfall via the path on the opposite bank of Crawford's Burn and enjoy 11 kilometres of paths within the Park."