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Monthly Archives: August 1998

ALDERMAN Stewart Dickson has described his recent visit to the American states of Florida and New Hampshire as a “great success”.

The Alliance Party delegate, accompanied by Councillor David Hillditch and Alderman Jim Brown, jetted off to America on July 24th to attend the prestigious ‘Sister Cities Convention’.

The convention, held in Florida and organised to highlight the positive aspects of towns and cities from around the world, featured workshops and lectures on a wide range of issues.

Tourism, economics, education, politics, cross-party relations and the environment were just some of the issues discussed at the convention.

Although the convention was “extremely important” to the Carrickfergus team, Mr. Dickson also described his meeting with representatives in the New Hampshire state of Portsmouth as “equally important”.

The Carrickfergus councillors spent the first week in Florida before embarking on their trip to Portsmouth where they discussed plans to organise transatlantic educational visits and websites.

Councillor Dickson, who returned from the visit last weekend, is now hoping to continue with the contact they established in Portsmouth.

“After the recent spate of trouble in the town, it was good to see something positive happening for Carrickfergus,” said the Alliance man.

“The convention enabled us to develop links with other cities and many of the delegates were impressed with what Carrickfergus had to offer.

“We were intending – despite the recent negative images of Carrickfergus – to set the record straight and inform the Americans of the positive aspects of our town.

“The convention was a great way of understanding other towns, cities and countries and I hope we can put our experience to good use,” added Alderman Dickson.

But Alderman Dickson, who narrowly missed out on a seat on the Northern Ireland shadow assembly, said the visit to Portsmouth would also stand as one of the “highlights” of the visit.

He said: “The convention we attended was a memorable experience – but so too was our visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“Portsmouth is the sister city of Carrickfergus and many of the delegates we met were determined to launch various projects between the two towns.

“An educational visit has been planned for next year but delegates from Portsmouth are also keen to establish a web-site between the two towns.

“Our visit to Portsmouth made front page news and we were also on television. Overall, the visit was a tremendous success and I hope that Carrickfergus is now seen in a better light.”

MEMBERS of the Conservation Volunteers should be commended by Carrickfergus Borough Council for their refurbishment work along the Blackhead Path, according to a local councillor.

The Alliance Party’s Robin Cavan, who is a councillor for the Kilroot area of the borough, made the claim after visiting the historic path last weekend.

He described the work by the volunteers as “tremendous” and said the council should take “immediate steps” to honour the group’s efforts.

Assisted by a £5,000 grant from Carrickfergus Borough Council, the conservationists have worked on the path’s ‘golden stairs’ and have constructed a drainage channel to cope with outbreaks of heavy rain.

Councillor Cavan, who is a constant visitor to the path, also said the work carried out by the volunteers will be a “major boost” to walkers and ramblers in across East Antrim.

“After visiting the path last weekend, and viewing the work that was carried out by the conservation volunteers, I think it is only proper that the local council should commend the group,” said Mr. Cavan.

“The money they received from the council has been put to good use and they have worked tirelessly to refurbish the path.

“Their work means that all types of people will be able to enjoy the path and I hope that people do use it because it has a lot to offer.

“It is a vital part of the borough’s tourist industry and the walk along the path is both pleasurable and enjoyable for people of all ages,” he added.

THE President of the Alliance Party, Dr. Philip McGarry has called on the Irish Government to confirm its commitment to releasing – by the year 2000 – paramilitary prisoners convicted of the murders of members of the Garda.

Dr. McGarry said that failure to do so would be an act of “bad faith”, which would indicate an unwillingness to support fully the Good Friday Agreement.

The Alliance President said: “Last week the Irish Government ordered the release of a member of the IRA who had been convicted of attempting to murder a policeman in England in 1992,” said Dr. McGarry.

“This decision, naturally enough, has caused distress to the relatives of the murdered police officer and illustrates clearly the sensitive nature of the early release of prisoners.

“Last Friday I called upon the Irish Government to confirm that those who had murdered members of the Garda would be released, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement, by June 2000. My call has been met with a deafening silence.

“I felt that it was important to do this in view of the fact that the Garda Representatives Association assertion that those convicted of the murder of Garda Hand in 1984 should not be released. This comes after the widespread speculation that if people are convicted of the 1996 murder of Gerry McCabe in Limerick they will not be released.

“This would clearly be an intolerable act of bad faith by the Irish government and would be an unacceptable breach of the Good Friday Agreement which has been endorsed overwhelmingly by the people of Ireland. The only inference that could be drawn from the failure to release such prisoners is that the Irish government is not committed to equality of treatment and fairness for all.

“I repeat my call to the Minister for Justice to make it crystal clear that those who have been convicted of the murders of members of the Garda on behalf of the IRA will all be released by June 2OOO,” added the Alliance Party President.

THE Alliance Party’s environment spokesperson has called on Castlereagh Borough Council to launch a “modern” waste management and recycling programme.

Councillor Geraldine Rice, who is the vice-chair of her council’s technical services committee, made the claim after receiving a flood of complaints about the lack of waste disposal facilities in the borough.

She said that, for Castlereagh to maintain its status as one of Northern Ireland’s premier boroughs, it was essential for the council to address the issue with the “utmost attention”.

“Pollution and waste are aspects of a global problem but they are very relevant to the borough of Castlereagh,” explained the Alliance councillor.

“We all know that the issue of pollution is a major problem in Northern Ireland but we must all do our best to keep our local areas clean.

“That’s why I have called on my local council to launch a modern waste disposal and recycling programme. We may have a large landfill site in the borough but it is clear that there is much room for improvement.

“I can’t understand why Castlereagh council, which claims to be a premier borough, has not introduced a sufficient waste management and recycling programme.

“But I think that part of this is down to the cost of introducing a comprehensive recycling and recovery programme.

“We all know that the government taxes on landfill sites will inevitably make them much more costly and we also know that the government are committed to reducing landfill sites.

“And I would also hope that my fellow councillors support my proposals to launch a new waste management and recycling programme,” added Mrs. Rice.

A LEADING member of the Alliance Party has condemned whoever was responsible for last Saturday’s bomb blast in Banbridge.

And North Down assembly member Eileen Bell, who is the Alliance Party’s Chairperson, also urged politicians to realise that peace would not happen “overnight”.

Mrs. Bell said:

“I am appalled at the actions of the thugs who carried out this awful attack in Banbridge last Saturday. When will they realise that their actions serve no purpose at all?

“We must recognise that there are those who are determined to wreck the Good Friday agreement and the new assembly – but they must not be allowed to succeed.

“And now that we have a chance of working together – we must work even harder to ensure that the nightmare of the last 30 years does not happen again.

“We must all face with realism the task that we now have and we must vigorously oppose those who are determined to carry out such appalling acts of terrorism.

“The agreement and the assembly is the only chance that we have of moving forward and I would urge all politicians do everything in their power to persuade those who are committed to violence to pursue the path of peace and democracy.”