From the pages of the Down Recorder, October 17, 2001

From the pages of the Down Recorder, October 17, 2001

13 October 2021

DOWNPATRICK – A stinging double-pronged attack has been launched by South Down MP, Eddie McGrady, on those he believes are undermining the Downpatrick Maternity Unit.

Mr McGrady has claimed officials at the Eastern Health Board and anaesthetists based at the Downe Hospital have been undermining in-patient maternity services and he has called for the intervention of Health Minister, Bairbre de Brun. 

Writing in today’s Down Recorder, Mr McGrady says the Eastern Board has carried out an assessment of services at just the Downpatrick unit but not at any other unit in the Province.

Mr McGrady has also openly criticised anaesthetists based at the Downe Hospital for constantly challenging aspects of the maternity service in Downpatrick.

Mr McGrady’s comments come in the wake of the implementation of new so-called protocols at the maternity unit which dictate that certain “high risk” pregnancies, previously dealt with in Downpatrick as a matter of course, are now referred to other hospitals.

The result of these protocols is that the clinical judgement of the consultant obstetricians and the midwives has been completely undermined and the element of choice removed from women, he claimed. 

DRUMAROAD – A Drumaroad man, shot last week by dissident Republicans, is alive thanks to the quick thinking of a policeman.

The officer who attended the Chapel Lane shooting used his fist to staunch the flow of blood from an artery shredded when the 40 year-old was shot in the legs by two men with shotguns.

Paramedics who later took the man to the Downe Hospital, said afterwards they had no doubt he would have died from massive blood loss but for the actions of the policeman.

A statement to RTE, supported by a codeword used in previous dissident attacks in the Castlewellan area, said the man was attacked  because he was allegedly selling drugs in the area. 

KILLYLEAGH – Delamont Country Park has lost the opportunity to host Ireland’s only specialist owl sanctuary.

The World of Owls centre is to be created near Ballymoney amid claims that Down Council took too long to make a decision. The project manager Mr Mike Gibb, said Delamont had always been his first option but he could no longer afford to wait on the council.

Mr Gibb’s announcement dashes hopes that the centre, which is destined to become the largest owl and birds of prey rescue facility in Europe, would come to Killyleagh.

Mr Gibb had entered negotiations with Down Council last year regarding the possible construction of the sanctuary at Delamont. 

But the project became the subject of controversial debates within the council chamber earlier this year amid accusations that council officials were dragging their heels about the proposal, leading Mr Gibb to look for alternative locations. 

CLOUGH – Residents opposing plans for the erection of a BT Cellnet mobile telephone mast in Clough have formed an action group to try and block the plan.

At a meeting in the village on Monday, residents got together after they heard local environmentalist, Walter Graham, outlined the drawbacks and health risks associated with these masts.

Plans for the 20-metre mast which, if approved, will be sited within the Watson’s filling station complex, were published several weeks ago and if accepted could be operating within months.

Up to 70 residents gathered in the Old School House, just a stone’s throw from the proposed site, to hear of the risks and implications these masts are believed to cause.

Villagers heard how the transmitter could dominate the skyline, towering over homes, a primary school, petrol station and an old people’s home.

Claiming that scientists believed the growth of cancers were “spurred on” by the transmitters, he said. “If this mast goes up my children are coming out of school, there is no way they will study in the shadow of that mast. Most of the children in that school live very close to the mast site and the consequences will be disastrous if they have to live and study under it,” he said.

DARRAGH CROSS – A Planning Service decision to refuse permission for a new filling station and shop in Darragh Cross has been strongly criticised by a local councillor.

Miss Margaret Ritchie said the decision not to grant planning permission to Mr J C Flanagan for the development near the junction of the Darragh and Manse roads, showed a “complete lack of common sense.”

Planners gave four reasons for refusing the development which would have been the village’s first purpose-built shop.

It was ruled that the site was in a countryside area and on a minor road and because no special circumstances were demonstrated, a relaxation of the planning controls would not be allowed.

Planners also pointed out the development site is within the Belfast green belt area and is outside the development limits for Darragh Cross.

DUNDRUM – Pupils at Sacred Heart Primary School in Dundrum are enjoying the benefits of an exciting environmental project thanks to the efforts of the Mourne Heritage Trust and the Prince’s Trust.

Volunteers from both organisations were at the school recently to build a wildlife pond and insect garden and also plant shrubs.

Mr Gerry Carey, Prince’s Trust team leader, thanked the Mourne Heritage Trust for assisting and supervising the volunteers and for providing equipment to carry out the project.

He also thanked Mr Patrick McParland, school principal, for his hospitality during the week.

Mr McParland expressed his delight at the work carried out by the Prince’s Trust and also thanked the ranger and countryside team from the Mourne Heritage Trust for their help throughout the project.

BALLYNAHINCH – A colourful ballon launch in Ballynahinch yesterday marked a vital step forward for children with speech and language difficulties.

Education charity, I-CAN, officially threw open the doors of its first pioneering centre in Northern Ireland, at Ballynahinch Primary School, to provide the best start in life for children who have problems communicating.

Laughter rang out from the bright classroom where three and four year-olds, who would otherwise start primary school unable to communicate, read or write, were having fun and learning together in the colourful new suite.

The children who would normally feel frustrated, isolated or unconfident because they cannot communicate, are helped by a speech and language therapist, nursery teacher and classroom assistant, who work together to assess, plan and work with the children. 

STRANGFORD – Crew members on the Strangford ferry have reacted angrily to news that the Roads Service may privatise the service’s workforce.

The government is interested in the idea of public private partnership and is studying the market to see how effective it would be if the crew was transferred to the private sector.

However, the ferry’s employees are adamant that this would be the wrong move saying their interests would be overlooked in a private owner’s quest for profit.

They are also worried that there may be job losses and other cutbacks which could lead to an inadequate service for passengers.

A spokesman for the crew said all employees object to the idea of privatisation adding they have all been kept in the dark about what the government is proposing to do.

Around 18 people work on the ferry on a daily basis and he said that everyone is worried that the rights they have fought for over the years will be eroded by a private owner.

Some of the staff have worked on the ferry for over 30 years and all are concerned that a private owner will only be interested in money and will not be able to retain the current conditions

“We have all been kept in the dark about what is happening. There had been some talk a few months ago abut the privatising the crew but we thought it had all fallen through.”