From the pages of the Down Recorder, August 7, 1989

From the pages of the Down Recorder, August 7, 1989

7 August 2019

DOWNPATRICK — A number of small construction firms in the Downpatrick area are on the verge of collapsing because the Housing Executive can’t pay them for work completed over the past few months.

Already one of the town’s main Executive contractors has arranged to pay off nine men tomorrow and there are fears that dozens of other jobs will go.

The company’s managing director, who does not want to be named, told the Recorder that he is owed more than £40,000 by the Executive and the wait for payment is threatening the solvency of the business.

“Our funds are completely exhausted and we have already been told by our suppliers that no more credit will be extended. If something does not happen soon we are finished,” he said.

“To be owed something like £40,000 by a public body like the Housing Executive is scandalous and  someone should step in to sort this mess out.”

The crisis has been sparked off by staff shortages and industrial action in the accounts department of the Executive.

A spokesman for the Executive said they were extremely concerned at the situation and had brought it to the attention of the Government.

“There have been a number of vacancies in the department and we are unable to fill them because of the Government ban on recruitment to the public service. The result is that we cannot porocess these settlements as quickly as we normally do.”

He added: We are trying to do all we can to help the smaller contractors who are always much more vulnerable in such a situation.”

NEWCASTLE — A verdict of accidental death has been returned on Newcastle motorcycle ace Tom Herron, who died at the North West 200 earlier this year.

Thirty year-old Herron, ranked third in the world, came off his bike at 120mph and smashed into a lamp post just 200 yards from the finishing line in the 750cc race. He died in hospital two hours later.

The inquest at Coleraine heard how Herron had ridden in the race with an injury to his thumb and arm, but the pathologist’s report could not determine whether this would have interfered with his ability to control the bike at high speed.

Two police constables, who witnessed the accident, told the inquest that the bike scraped the ground and the rider then lost control.

The coroner, Mr Robin Wray, discounted suggestions to close the Portrush circuit and said that the racing gave a great deal of pleasure to a lot of people. He added that he had seen Herron race many times and always had a great admiration for him.

DRUMANESS — Fresh hope for the old Drumaness Mill, which was becoming something of a white elephant, emerged this week with the news that Irish Waste Services have long term plans to develop it into an industrial estate.

This week a spokesman for the company confirmed they had already moved on to the site. The long term plans for the 75,000 sq ft red brick building involve the setting up of an industrial estate with potential for several hundred jobs. The firm will advertise shortly for tenants and the spokesman explained that there was a real need for small factory premises providing employment in the area.

The story of the mill since it closed down when owned by Hurst’s as part of the Ulster Weaving Group, when at one stage it provided work for 400 people, has been a long saga of disappointment.

The mill was sold to Irish Waste for around £35,000 recently. This figure falls far short of the original asking price at a public auction held in Ballynahinch last year, which was believed to be around £45,000.

The news of employment hopes for Drumaness was welcomed by the chairman of Down Council, Mr Eddie McVeigh, who said it was “good news indeed”.

He added: “I would welcome anything which would bring jobs to the Drumaness area and I hope that this is not one of the many disappointments which we have suffered over the last few years.”

BALLYNAHINCH — Plessey Telecommunications in Ballynahinch was closed on Monday when more than 300 production workers walked out as part of a national campaign to obtain shorter hours and more pay.

The strike action will be repeated on the Monday of the next two weeks and the production workers are also refusing to work overtime.

Their demands are for a basic skilled rate of £60, a reduction in hours to an eventual 35 hours a week and two extra days’ holiday.

A spokesman for the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions said: “We would have prefer to have obtained our realistic claim by mutual agreement with the employers, but unfortunately we are left with no other alternative.”

STRANGFORD LOUGH — A strong plea is being made to boat owners on Strangford Lough to combat the nuisance caused by inexperienced owners of large fast powerboats.

It comes from Mr T W McKee, of Sketrick Island, a noted yachtsman with more than 50 years’ sailing experience behind him.

He is annoyed by a recent “mafia-type display of outrageous aggressiveness” by a powerboat owner and would like to find an authority with the power to control such “blatant abuse of delightful waters, not to mention the risk to innocent people and their boats by sea-borne thugs.”

In a letter to the Recorder, Mr McKee describes how his 35-foot yacht was rocked from side to wide so viciously by the wash of the powerboat, which buzzed around it, that his family and grandchildren were lucky not to be seriously injured as they were flung back and forth across the wheelhouse.

He has passed the complaint to the Coastguard in the hope that they can have action taken, but understanding that use of Strangford Lough as a navigable waterway is free to all who wish to use it, he does not expect any success.

PORTAFERRY — A public meeting is to be held in Portaferry next week to protest about plans for sewage disposal in the town.

The meeting has been called by the local development association, which is concerned that the scheme about to be launched will be inadequate.

Councillor Paddy Doherty, a member of the development association, appealed for the support of townspeople to support the meeting so that plans can be drawn up to combat the scheme by Ards Borough Council.

Mr Doherty said the council originally proposed a filter bed scheme, which would pump treated sewage into Strangford Lough, but then abandoned the filter bed idea.

LOUGHINISLAND — It was a historic day for the community in Loughinisland when Paddy McFlynn, the president of the GAA, declared open their new Macartan Park on Sunday. 

The weather certainly could have been kinder for the biggest day in the history of the club, but nevertheless there was a good crowd to witness the opening, as well as the football and hurling games.

Mr Vincent Doran, the chairman of the club, welcomed the distinguished guests and said Loughinisland was one of the oldest clubs in East Down. They had a proud tradition and the opening of the new park was the fulfilment of a dream.

The new park was blessed by Fr Charles Bready, PP, Loughinisland, Among those also present 

were Gerard McShane, East Down chairman; T P Murphy, county secretary; Harry McEvoy, Ulster Council delegate; and Matt Fitzpatrick, county registrar.

LISTOODER — Mr Thomas Steenson, who is leaving shortly to live in America, was the recipient of a specially inscribed Bible from Mr James Brownlee, Worshipful Master of Listooder Orange Lodge, at a dance in Listooder on Friday night.