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Tuesday, 31 May 2022

 Andrew Muir MLA

Alliance Party Member of the 
Northern Ireland Assembly for North Down

Alliance Party Chief Whip, Finance and Infrastructure Spokesperson

Former Mayor of North Down, Councillor and Alliance Party Group Leader on Ards and North Down Borough Council 

CONTACT DETAILS

Casework & Constituency queries 

North Down Constituency Office 
33 Church Road, Holywood, BT18 9BU

Constituency Office open 9am 5pm Monday to Thursday, 9am to 3pm Friday. Closed for lunch 1pm to 2pm and on Public Holidays

Due to COVID-19 callers by appointment, telephone or email to arrange, virtual appointments also available

Telephone 028 9544 2944  Email office@andrewmuir.net 

Room 45, Northern Ireland Assembly, Parliament Buildings, Ballymiscaw, Stormont, Belfast, BT4 3XX 

Muir welcomes City Status for Bangor

North Down Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has warmly welcomed the recent award of City Status given to Bangor, calling it a ‘landmark moment’ for the whole community. 

Mr Muir was speaking after it was formally announced that Bangor would become one of eight places across the UK and beyond that have been awarded civic honours as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. 

Mr Muir has detailed how Bangor’s Christian Heritage, proud naval tradition and the role Bangor played in helping the Allies during the Second World War all helped to shape the bid that would eventually lead to the honour of City status. 

‘I love Bangor and am proud to call it my home,’ Mr Muir said. ‘Bangor is a fantastic place to live, work and invest and I am glad to see this well-deserved title being awarded. This a landmark event worthy of celebration putting Bangor firmly on the map recognising all our achievements, past, present and ahead of us in the future. Our sea-side City is already a major events centre in terms of heritage, sport, music and arts and I look forward to seeing further investment, development and regeneration of our City centre as we build on this exciting opportunity to see Bangor flourish. I’m delighted award of Freedom of the Borough to Health and Social Care staff in 2018 helped secure the successful bid, this was a very proud moment for me with my Mum serving for decades in the NHS. Together, we can succeed."

Muir seeks solutions to Ballyholme Beach Anti-Social Behaviour nightmare

Alliance North Down Assembly candidate Andrew Muir has been continuing his engagement with statutory bodies in a bid to bring an end to anti-social behaviour issues plaguing residents and visitors to Ballyholme Beach. 

The popular beauty spot is a local highlight especially in the warmer spring and summer months. Unfortunately, the increased footfall also brings problems with littering, alcohol consumption, noise and even trespassing onto local properties now becoming a serious problem. 

Commenting on the issue Mr Muir said “For the past two summers we have had reports of people straying onto privately owned properties near the beach front as well as late night noise from cars speeding up and down The Banks lane to and from Ballyholme Beach carpark. Some recent recordings made by residents are shocking listening with loud noise levels at 2 and 3 am in the morning from cars and people whilst residents try to sleep.” 

“I understand this is a very popular local spot and everyone should be able to enjoy it but some of the recent behaviour is bang out of order and entirely unacceptable. A recent site meeting with Council officials discuss the problems and potential solutions to stop the trespassing onto local properties produced some promising possible solutions which I will be following up upon. I have also requested a meeting with the new Police Area Commander and followed up with the local neighbourhood Policing team to see if anymore can be done to curb the noise made at night which is really disruptive to residents living nearby.” 

“I am hopeful that working together we can find realistic solutions and minimise the impact of these problems on local residents.”

Muir calls for action to tackle endless circle of resurfacing delays

Alliance Infrastructure Spokesperson Andrew Muir has expressed his frustration at seemingly endless circle of delays to resurface key roads across North Down by the Department for Infrastructure. 

Pointing to just one example, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Roads Division listed Holywood Hight Street for inclusion in its 2021/22 report to Ards and North Down Borough Council which was welcome news to the many businesses and residents who use this busy road on a daily basis. After no progress Mr Muir recently contacted DfI to check for an update on when works may begin at this and a number of other locations. 

Mr Muir stated, “The upper end of Holywood High Street near the Police Station has been in a poor state of repair for many years now with many businesses, visitors and local residents driving through Holywood every day.   

After pushing for the road to be resurfaced I was delighted to see it listed to be done during the 2021/22 financial year but with the end of this financial year rapidly approaching I contacted the Infrastructure Minister to confirm when the resurfacing would be commencing at this and other spots. 

The response received was astounding detailing that plans had changed and there would now be design works commissioned to complete asphalt resurfacing as opposed to concrete resurfacing and that the Department was now “hopeful” this would be included in the 2022/23 works programme. 

It’s massively disappointing that after waiting so long for this work to be scheduled it turns out it’s delayed yet again. The Department seem to be failing to complete even the modest works scheduled and this is why we’re seeing such a continuous decline in the standard of our road network. 

In the last financial year even with a budget confirmed it took many months before the Department confirmed their planned works in Autumn 2021. Now without a budget we are being told nothing can be confirmed. I would urge the Department not to sit on its hands but do all it can to deliver indicative plans for works to be completed over the next twelve months bringing a halt to this seemingly endless circle of resurfacing delays. So many areas need action now, whether it be Holywood High Street, Bridge Road South, Crawfordsburn, Groomsport Road in Bangor and the list goes on and on and on."

Egan & Muir submit Nominations to stand as Alliance Party Assembly Election Candidates in North Down

North Down Alliance candidates for the Assembly election on 5 May 2022 have submitted their formal nominations at Bangor Castle on Friday 1 April 2022. Connie Egan and Andrew Muir are in the running in North Down alongside Kellie Armstrong and Nick Mathison in Strangford. 

Speaking after Nomination, Connie Egan stated “I’m delighted to have been nominated as an Alliance candidate for North Down in the upcoming Assembly Election. It’s been an honour to serve Bangor West as a Councillor since 2019 and I hope to continue the work I have been doing in the Assembly; confronting the climate emergency, tackling the crisis in the health system, pushing for investment in North Down and promoting LGBT+ and women’s rights 

North Down has led from the front in recent years with the election of its first Alliance MP, it is clear we have the momentum to deliver progressive change in representation in this constituency, by electing two progressive Alliance MLAs.” 

Andrew Muir also remarked “It’s been a privilege to serve the people of North Down for well over a decade, first as Councillor from 2010, Mayor 2013/14 and MLA since late 2019, providing positive, progressive leadership, working hard to help hundreds of people on a wide range of issues especially people in need of Health Care. As Party Finance & Infrastructure Spokesperson I have been championing actions to deal with the rising Cost of Living, funding for our NHS, legislation to tackle Climate Change, support for businesses and more. 

There’s a mountain of work that needs done but with others focused on division and disruption every vote will count to break the deadlock by electing Connie Egan and I. With your support, together, we can deliver the bigger Alliance MLA team needed to transform the Assembly, for good.”

Muir plans Private Members Bill to ban Conversion Therapy

Alliance Chief Whip and North Down representative Andrew Muir has pledged to bring forward a Private Members Bill to Ban Conversion Therapy if returned to the Assembly and delays from the Department for Communities continue. The MLA recently asked the Communities Minister to outline reasons for delay in bringing forward proposals to ban Conversion Therapy and was informed of a myriad of reasons why no progress has been made. 

Commenting on the matter, Andrew Muir stated “Conversion Therapy is deeply harmful which must be outlawed without delay but nearly a year after the Assembly voted in favour of a Ban I am bitterly disappointed the Assembly mandate ended without even a consultation being commenced on legislative proposals to criminalise these harmful practices.   

The fact that a dedicated staff resource to take forward a ban was only put in place from January 2022 just adds to concern that the focus and priority given to this does not match the urgency needed to end the harm being perpetrated. 

U-turns, chaos and confusion from the UK Government is just adding to the feeling of despair with action in England & Wales delayed or denied and trans people likely to be subject to yet more discrimination as a regular of planned exclusion. 

If the delays from the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland continue and I am elected back to the Assembly on 5 May it would be my intention to consult upon my own Private Members Bill to Ban Conversion Therapy. We cannot continue to postpone action to stop the harm being inflicted upon LGBTQI+ people. We’ve travelled a long way along the road towards a truly inclusive and equal future for LGBTQI+ people but there’s much more that needs done right now. We cannot afford to wait a day longer to Ban Conversion Therapy and end the harm done”

Muir working with group to save future of Stonebridge

Alliance Party representative and Assembly candidate Andrew Muir has met up with local campaigners keen to save Stonebridge in Conlig and again called for the Department for Infrastructure to halt plans to abandon Stonebridge, Conlig. The Alliance representative has stated that if the Department are unwilling to drop their Abandonment proposal a Public Inquiry must be held over the future of Stonebridge. The historic Belfast and County Down Railway Bridge that dates back to 1861.

For a number of months Mr Muir has been working with local residents to prevent the progression of a proposed Abandonment Order that has been made on The Green Road, Conlig by the Department for Infrastructure.  

In February 2022, an online petition to the Minister for Infrastructure, calling on her to save Stonebridge from potential damage, received 546 signatures.

A number of formal objection letters were also lodged to the Department for Infrastructure against the proposed Abandonment Order. These objection letters will now be reviewed to decide if the Abandonment proposal should be progressed to the next stage and whether or not there is a need for a public inquiry. Mr Muir has called on the Department to call a Public Inquiry if they decide to proceed with their Abandonment Order.

Local resident and campaigner Louis O’Keeffe commented, ‘This bridge is part of our heritage and is a powerful link to the history of the area therefore it is essential to protect this landmark from the risk of demolition. We have seen a great response to our online petition and a number of formal objection letters have also been lodged with the Department for Infrastructure. It is vital that the Department engages with local residents to find another solution to the future of Stonebridge.'

‘From my research it appears that there are extremely limited mechanisms in place to protect Stonebridge if the proposed Abandonment Order goes ahead. The Council’s Local Development Plan is seemingly our only hope if the Abandonment Order is made, however this is many years away from completion,’ said Mr Muir.

‘I am still waiting on a response from the Minister for Communities who has responsibility for our Built and Industrial Heritage but investigations to date have revealed the bridge cannot be listed or any other similar protection afforded. We cannot be expected to take our chances with an Abandonment Order.

‘I urge the Department to abandon this proposed Abandonment Order and engage with Council over what protections can be granted via the Local Development Plan before this is ever re-considered. Failing that a Public Inquiry must be held to ensure full and proper examination of the issues ensuring local voices are heard. This is an important piece of our local rail heritage and action taken by local residents has demonstrated the desire to keep Stonebridge standing.’

Muir working hard to save Holywood Ulster Bank

Alliance Party MLA Andrew Muir has said he is ‘extremely concerned’ after a recent announcement by Ulster Bank that a further nine branches in Northern Ireland will close their doors within the next three months including the last Bank left in the Town of Holywood. 

Ulster Bank is now part of the NatWest Group and the move comes as the parent company cites, ‘an increased demand for mobile and online services.’ 

Since the announcement, Mr Muir has been engaging with local Chamber of Commerce groups and the Financial Services Union on the issue and will be writing to the Chair of NatWest Banking Group, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the head of Ulster Bank, highlighting the impact this will have on our local community and asking them to stop these planned closures. 

Speaking on the matter Mr Muir said, ‘I am incredibly disappointed to hear of Ulster Bank’s recent announcement to close a further nine Northern Ireland based banks, including the Holywood Ulster Bank Branch. This is a real body blow for people and businesses leaving Holywood without any Bank.’ 

‘This is now the only bank left open in the town and it will have a significant and detrimental impact upon the town. Whilst there is clearly an increase in the number of people using online banking services, there is still a very real need for a base in our Town Centres that people can easily access, especially those who do not feel comfortable with or are unable to access online banking.’ 

‘My thoughts are also with those families that will be devastated by this news with compulsory redundancies now on the horizon. Ulster Bank’s decision will have real and serious consequences just at a time when the Cost of Living is rising at an alarming rate. I will continue to engage with all those impacted by this news and reiterate that these planned closures should not go ahead.’