From the pages of the Down Recorder, 5th September 2001

From the pages of the Down Recorder, 5th September 2001

1 September 2021

STRANGFORD – The new £3m Portaferry/Strangford ferry, which should have been sailing the Lough this week, is still in Merseyside.

Work on the state-of-the-art vessel was due to be completed and it should have crossed the Irish Sea last week to work on the busy ferry route which links Strangford and Portaferry.

There have been some setbacks during trials in Merseyside but it is believed the ferry, which is to replace the ageing MV Portaferry, should be up and running on the Lough by September 17.

With the arrival of the ferry imminent, local Assemblyman Kieran McCarthy has accused Regional Development Minister Gregory Campbell of “dragging his heels” over free transport for the elderly.

Mr McCarthy, who has been campaigning for the inclusion of the ferry in the free transport scheme for a long time, accused Mr Campbell of keeping the elderly people of Strangford and Portaferry waiting unnecessarily for a decision.

“Free use of the ferry will bring enormous benefits to elderly people in the Strangford area, making transport for the less mobile easier. The pubic had to wait until an election was imminent before the minister made an announcement on free public transport for the elderly. This time i hope is is all plain sailing,” he said.

DUNDRUM – The head of Dundrum’s Village Committee has this week given a guarded welcome to plans to bulldoze a local pub to make way for a new flats complex.

An application seeking outline permission to bulldoze the former Quay’s Bar to provide the new flats was lodged with local planners this week.

Village committee chairman Patsy Burns said he hopes that if the scheme is approved it will be sensitively developed to blend in with existing buildings in the Main Street area.

He added that he hopes the development will not be out of character with existing buildings.

Mr Burns said the premises earmarked for redevelopment have been targeted by local vandals on several occasions and that fires have been started in the building.

He confirmed this week that the village committee is aware of the plan to provide a new flats complex, complete with a new car parking, and is backing the scheme.

“We hope the design of the complex will be suitable and fit in neatly with the existing homes and businesses in the area.

“The last thing anyone would want is a gaudy building in the heart of Dundrum which is totally out of character,” he declared.

BALLYNAHINCH – There has been widespread political condemnation in the wake of last week’s pipe bomb attack at Loughside Drive in Ballynahinch.

South Down MP Mr Eddie McGrady claimed the attack was “clearly designed to kill” and said it was very fortunate no one lost their life, was maimed or seriously injured.

He said incidents like the attack in Loughside Drive are undertaken to create division and ferment fear, tension and anxiety in the local community.

Mr McGrady said he hopes the incident will not be repeated and that everyone in Ballynahinch and the surrounding area will reject the actions of those who perpetrate, condone or encourage what he described as “such dastardly pipe bomb attacks on local residents.”

The MP said last week’s attack contrasts starkly with the sterling work undertaken by the Ballynahinch Regeneration Committee which has been regenerating the town since its formation in 1994.

“This group is currently involved in restoring the Market House which is central to the whole regeneration of the town,” he added calling on anyone with information about last week’s attack to provide it to the authorities.

NEWCASTLE – A new ambulance base is due to open in Newcastle early in the New Year.

Work to provide the 24-hour facility is expected to get underway shortly at a former bread depot at the Castlewellan Road and Ambulance Service officials hope the base will be fully operational by early January.

An amended application seeking planning permission for the scheme has been lodged with local planners this week and includes improved site lines for the new base.

Planners are understood to have expressed concerns about two concrete pillars at the entrance to the Castlewellan Road base but these have now been moved.

A new ambulance base for Newcastle was first identified several years ago in a Province-wide review of emergency provision and while it was hoped the Newcastle base would have been operational by now, Ambulance Service officials aim to concentrate all their efforts on the scheme over the coming months.

Ambulance Service official, Mr Andrew Cooper, said once operational, the base will play a pivotal role in the area and provide improved response times for patients. 

Mr Cooper said paramedics will be based in Newcastle 24-hours a day providing a rapid response to major incidents.

DOWNPATRICK – The St Patrick Centre cannot be profitable unless Northern Ireland’s image abroad improves, a Downpatrick councillor has warned.

Mr John Doris, who is also a director of the visitor centre, told a meeting in the town last week that without a stable society where peace is seen to be working, the vital foreign visitors needed for the centre’s success will not come.

The councillor’s comments came as Down Council’s most powerful committee recommended that £10,000 is paid from council funds to the centre to offset losses in it first seven months.

The centre’s overall losses for the period of August 31, 2000, until March 31 this year are £10,235.  During that period the new attraction was open to the public for two-and-half months.

The centre could have asked for up to £60,000 under an arrangement whereby the council will pay up to £100,000 for each of the first ten years of the centre’s operations and councillors have said they are pleased the figure was so low given the impact of foot and mouth.

CLOUGH – A collapsed culvert between Downpatrick and Clough has caused traffic disruption over the past week.

The culvert on the Tullymurry Straight collapsed last Wednesday, causing a small opening in the road.

However, once workmen began repairs in the afternoon the gash developed into a large crevice.

Work on the road is expected to continue well into next week and may not be finished until next weekend.

A spokesman for Department of Environment Roads Service said the department apologises for any inconvenience the road works have caused, especially as traffic is busier with children going back to school.

SAINTFIELD – A survey has found that 20 per cent of car crime and burglaries in the Saintfield area could have been prevented if basic security measures had been in place.

Local people are now being urged to seek advice from the local RUC’s crime prevention officer on all aspects of deterring crime in and around the home.

According to police, the importance of such advice has been highlighted with the revelation that these burglaries in the Saintfield and Rowallane areas could have prevented if basic measures, such as locking doors and closing windows, had been observed.

“Car keys left hanging up inside houses are an open invitation to burglars to avail of free transport home,” explained Detective Inspector Mark Brown.

“In some cases, keys have been taken by a criminal team specialising in stealing expensive cars and then ‘ringing’ them – giving the car a false identity.”

With a number of these ‘ringer’ cars having been left in the Saintfield area in recent weeks, extra police resources have been brought in to the area with both uniformed officers and detectives involved. 

Mr Brown, who has said he is conceded about the problem, added: “The police are actively looking at crime in the Saintfield area and are making an all-out effort to catch the culprits.”