From the pages of the Down Recorder, September 19, 2001

From the pages of the Down Recorder, September 19, 2001

15 September 2021

DOWNPATRICK – A senior consultant obstetrician based at the Downpatrick maternity unit has appealed to mothers to keep using the local hospital.

The appeal by Mr Nixon Storey came during an address at a special meeting last week of the Down Community Health Committee.

Mr Storey was joined by the unit’s other consultant obstetrician, Dr Lawrence Erskine, for the special meeting and made it clear that despite the speculation surrounding the future of the maternity hospital, it will not be closing within months.

Mr Storey said the doors of the unit will remain open for at least another three years and hopes that if the arguments being advanced to retain maternity services are taken on board by the Department of Health, there will be no loss of local provision.

The senior consultant said it is important mothers across the area realise that the local unit is very much “open for business” and that nothing is going to happen to it in the short term.

The two consultants were invited to address last week’s Health Committee meeting to help campaigners formulate their response to the Hayes report into the future of hospital services in the  area.

Mr Storey said while the Hayes report proposes the withdrawal of maternity services, there is no detail on how gynaecological and obstetric emergencies will be dealt with if the local unit closes.

The senior consultant, who has been based at the Ardglass Road unit for over 20 years, said the report does not properly address gynae issues and suggested its proposal for mothers to have their babies in Belfast before returning for post-natal treatment in Downpatrick “is an issue which has not been thought through completely.” 

CROSSGAR – The future of Crossgar Police Station is up for discussion during a meeting of the Police Authority later today.

News that the station has been earmarked for closure was confirmed last month when the Police Authority revealed a major cost-cutting exercise which will include shutting down 25 stations, including Crossgar and Carryduff.

But speculation that the Crossgar station may close as early as next month was this week dismissed by a spokesperson for the Authority who said there would be no closures until 

the matter is fully 


The issue is set to be examined during a meeting of Police Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan and Police Authority officials today.

Meanwhile, Crossgar constable, Joe Embleton, said he was convinced that the police station should remain open.

Crimes dealt with by the local unit in recent months have included car thefts, burglaries and drink driving and Mr Embleton said it was important for police in the village to maintain a visible presence.

“This is a growing community and there are a lot of things happening here,” he said.

“I like to think that we make a difference when we are here.”

NEWCASTLE  – A new community group has been set up in Newcastle, which aims to tackle and address the needs of people living in the area.

The Newcastle Community Safety Focus Group, which has been meeting informally since 1999, will hold its first official meeting on Tuesday night at 7.30pm in the Anchor Bar.

Group chairman, Mr Gordon Graham, has extended a warm invite to all people from the area to attend the meeting, during which formal structures and subcommittees will be drawn up and strategies planned.

Already the group has successfully seen new street lighting installed in the Burrendale estate and members also aim to target meeting places used by 

disorderly underage drinkers.

The groups has also highlighted the desire of local businesses to have closed circuit television systems installed in the town.

“We aim to address various problems from the needs of senior citizens living in Newcastle to vandalism, antisocial behaviour, underage drinking to drug abuse,” explained Gordon, who is a former Justice of the Peace and Special Criminal Prosecutor in the United States of America.

“We want to highlight the community’s perception of what they feel the town and its people need,” he added.

COMBER – All roads will lead to Comber this weekend when the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Castle Espie stages a two-day gathering for animal lovers of all ages.

Animal Magic, which organisers has billed as the biggest and best animal show ever held in Northern Ireland, will give locals the chance to listen to talks, take part in various workshops and watch displays. During the event, which has been timed to coincide with the arrival of thousands of Brent geese from Arctic Canada to the  Castle Espie mudflats, bugs, beasts, eagle owls, rare farm breeds, giant snakes, reptiles and stick insects of all shapes and sizes will all be on show.

Among the highlights of the two days, Ballymena falconer, Ian Patterson, will be demonstrating his exciting craft on both days, while on Sunday locals can cheer on the Patches Dog Agility Team from Comber as the dogs and their handlers go through their paces.

ARDGLASS – A teenage gang has been blamed for last week’s brutal killing of a cat, which was burnt alive in Ardglass.

The attack, which saw the animal drenched in lighter fuel before being set alight and its burnt carcass left on a wall with a beer can between it’s paws and a cigarette in it’s mouth, has scared the community according to residents.

One local man, who said the teenager’s gang has been running havoc in the village for the past six months, has even claimed he is afraid that someone is going to end up murdered.

There are also fears that drug dealing and drug abuse is taking place and residents say it is time to put a stop to it before someone is found dead. Apparently members of the gang, some as young as 13, may be trying drugs, and used needles have been found at the back of the dock.

It  is thought that around 15 youths are terrorising older people in their own homes with one pensioner’s windows being smashed on numerous occasions. 

Local man, Kevin Magee, said the community was completed sickened by what has been happening in Ardglass over the past six months.

He angrily accused the youths of torturing people in the village and said that judging by what they did on the cat he was afraid someone would end up murdered.

Mr Magee also said he was concerned that a young person was going to end up dead due to an overdose of drugs if the dealers are not stopped immediately.

“There is trouble here every night of the week 

but it is particularly bad at the weekends. It got even worse over the summer months and there has been no sign of it getting any better.

BALLYNAHINCH – Senior officials from the Pharmaceutical Society were last night asked to support an out-of-hours chemist rota in Ballynahinch.

The appeal was issued by local councillor, Mr Patsy Toman, during the monthly meeting of Down Council’s Health Committee.

Last night’s session was also attended by representatives from the recently created Down Doctors Co-Operative and Mr Toman was hoping they would also back his call for a new rota to be introduced in the market town.

Earlier this year, Mr Toman called for the introduction of new legislation and finance to be made available to allow “vital new service” to be provided on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

His one-man crusade to have an out-of-hours chemist rota provided in Ballynahinch was launched at the start of the year and Mr Toman was hoping last night’s meeting would provide further support for the initiative.

Under current legislation pharmacists in Ballynahinch are not permitted to open on a Sunday to provide a service for the busy market town and people who require medicines or drugs prescribed by their doctor have to travel to either Downpatrick or the Forestside shopping centre in Belfast.