Archive for the 'Work in Newry & Mourne' Category Page 2 of 3



National Park 19 sept 2012

Cadogan is a voice of sanity supporting the Mournes / Cooleys National Park

NATIONAL PARK – letter to Editor at Mourne Observer 5/9/12

Sir,

The issues raised by the opponents to a National Park at the rally in Newcastle last week are not new, and were encapsulated in my detailed submission on the National Park back in 2006. The original Park proposal ignored the lessons of miss-managed Park projects like North Wales and the danger of negative impacts on normal rural development and so forth. (see www.enright.ie/policies/attachment/download-our-submission-on-the-national-park)

While I highlighted these dangers, I also put forward solutions, many of which were adopted in the final report via my predecessor on council Bill Corry who was on the parks working group. Any remaining issues can easily be dealt with given the premise of local democratic control over the Park.

The opportunity for local democratic control was enhanced last week by the publication of the new Electoral Boundaries for the New Down and Newry and Mourne Super-Council. This announcement reflected my submission seeking the transfer of Ballyward, Leitrim and Finnis into the new council are to ensure that the entire National Park will fall within one council area, potentially bound by local planning policy set by the new council.

Having a Parks Authority under the new Super Council would avoid unelected bureaucrats over-ruling our local elected representatives on policy in the park, and would allow the new council-based planning system to set the rules for development in the parks area.

I believe that having the National Park run by a sub-committee of the new Council along with local community and farming representatives would avoid the dangers posed by external rule by a quango or by the Department of the Environment. We may also need representatives from Louth Council, as the Park should include the Cooleys.

Most of the other concerns are of a simple practical nature like insurance for visitors on the land, compensation for maintaining the environment of the park and other details all of which have had solutions identified already.

The President of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce did not get a fair hearing at the meeting last week. Audrey Byrne speaks for all 7 Chambers of Commerce across South Down who have a joint manifesto on this issue. They represent 670 mostly indigenous small to medium sized enterprises, owned locally and with deep roots in the Mourne area. A National Park would be a local asset generating thousands of local jobs that could not me moved at the whim of a multinational company.

The Killarney National Park area on its own has more tourists than the whole of Northern Ireland put together, this is an opportunity we cannot miss.

 

Cllr Cadogan Enright, Down Council

 

Challenging Projected Coverage for RTE and TG4 in April 2012 – 6 months before digital switch-over

Following Digital UK writing to Down District Council last year us last year on the schedule for switch-over, I wrote back to them to them seeking reassurance that widespread concern around Down District that RTE1, RTE2 and TG4 would be available from day one as had previously been announced and as agreed under the Good Friday and Saint Andrews Agreement.

It was clear from the on-line maps they were supplying at the time that large areas of Down District including Downpatrick, Newcastle and Ballynahinch would be left out, I had been seeking improvements to this scenario. Map of Best Case Scenario April 2012 for RTE / TG4 coverage

Very large numbers of people in this district rely on these stations for sports coverage, Irish Language broadcasting and news across the Island of Ireland.

Denis Wolinski, Digital UK’s National Manager in Northern Ireland, wrote to me last October  saying “Beidh RTE agus TG4 ar fáil ar an gcóras nua.  Beidh a thuilleadh eolais faoi seo á fhógairt amach anseo.” (RTE and TG4 will be available on the new system, more information will be announced on this.)

However  significant gaps in coverage emerged (see link above to  map) during the digital switch-over which I  continued to query in a lengthy correspondence with Digital UK

Worryingly, digitaluk’s team here in N.I. have confirmed that only one of the two transmitters in the Belfast area will be carrying the Irish as well as the UK stations. Blackmountain will have both, but the Divis transmitter will only have UK services – most TV’s in Down District receive their signal from the Divis Transmitter.

I have challenged this arrangement both directly myself, and have had Down Council express concerns on behalf of all citizens in the District.

Digital have written to me saying “Our advice to consumers is based on information made available to us from the broadcasters. This indicates that the new Freeview service supplemented by Saorview signals from the Republic will make TG4, RTÉ One and RTÉ Two available to approximately 93 per cent of households in Northern Ireland. Our campaign reminds viewers that Freeview HD equipment will be needed to receive these channels via Freeview.”

 

I am campaigning to make sure we do not end up as part of the 7% who do not get the service.

Click here to see some of the correspondence to both Digital UK and to Saorview in the Republic

 

Bicycles can now be recycled

Bicycles can now be recycled

Councillor highlights RTE signal danger

Councillor highlights RTE signal danger

School Transport Campaign for Irish Medium Children

I have created this web-page for the benefit of Down District Council’s Education committee to try and give a summary of the plight of pupils attending secondary education through medium of Irish. They have been refused the same form of transport to their school (Coláiste Feirste in Belfast) that every other regional school in Belfast is provided with its own dedicated transport network covering County Down.

The GFA placed a statutory duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate Irish medium education in line with current provision for integrated education.

Access to second level IM education for many/most children outside of West Belfast is effectively blocked by the use of transport regulations that were not present when the Integrated, State and Catholic secondary school sectors were set up.

Given that all other sectors are English Speaking, not only may the DOE be acting illegally, but also may be acting in a racist manner.

Access to integrated education is given a clear priority by the department of education in both city and country areas to enable this sector to develop. Lagan College for instance is seen as a regional college servicing county Down. In addition to a fleet of City buses, Lagan college has been provided with a “shuttle service” between the school and Belfast bus-stations and a fleet of country buses serving areas around county Down as far south as Downpatrick.

This same priority must be given to IM education based on the application of existing UK law as well as the provisions of the European Charter signed by the UK Government following its commitment to do so in the 1998 GFA.

Find linked letters clearly stating the law supporting Coláiste Feirste’s case from
• the NI Human Rights commissioner here
• the Children’s’ Commissioner here
• and Rodger Watts the Lawyer who has advanced this case over the last 3 years on behalf of these Children here.

1. Secondary Education Transport in NI – a look at the Belfast Area

Any child living more than 3 miles from school is entitled to a bus pass and may use normal public bus provisions or one of the many dedicated buses serving schools the secondary sector.

Transport to school in NI via the normal daily public bus service but is supplemented by approximately 2020 dedicated school buses funded by the Department of Education. These additional buses are provided where the public routes are unsatisfactory, crowded, where the distances are great, where the children may be in danger from traffic or crossing hostile areas etc. This form of transport is ideal, as it takes a child to the door of a school, but where they are engaging in extra-curricular activity they can still use their bus passes on ordinary transport.

None of these 2020 buses are available for IM secondary school children.

When one compares the generous dedicated bus provision shown in the attached link for integrated schools in the Belfast area to the complete absence of any dedicated buses for the Irish Medium secondary sector, one only begins to scratch on the surface of this problem. (Note the provision of dedicated buses to areas like Lagmore or Downpatrick where Coláiste Feirste children have been refused a similar service.)
http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?hl=en&safe=active&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=100156166942575328650.00046e825ab15e9497659&ll=54.551359,-5.780182&spn=0.3158,0.890579&z=11

2. Putting Children in Danger in Hostile areas

There are other scandals affecting transport in this sector. I have been copied on letters from the Department of Education by the parents of children in North Belfast who have been instructed that if their Children were to walk down the Shankill Road (a Loyalist/British Nationalist area with a long history of anti-Irish/Catholic violence) to Irish secondary school their journey would be just less than 3 miles – and are therefore not entitled to a bus pass.

Letter to North Belfast Parent (widowed during ‘troubles’ and bringing up children alone).

Map here for stroll to IM school down Shankill Road.

When I met the department at Balloo House in my capacity as elected representative, DOE representatives openly accepted that no parent of an Irish speaking child could possibly let their child walk down the Shankill Road to school, but insists this rule must be followed and that “special exceptions” specified by the regulations do not apply. By contrast Integrated schools have a network of busses crossing “hostile areas” all over Belfast. Catholic Schools in East Belfast have buses provided that journey less than a mile and a half through hostile areas for very good health and safety reasons – but Coláiste Feirste students are refused the same facility. (Note other precedents exist to deal with this situation – eg Holy Cross primary get 2 buses because of “special circumstances”)

3. Looking at the Transport Situation outside Belfast

The situation outside of Belfast is even more dire. Parents have been campaigning for dedicated bus transport from Downpatrick to school. All other secondary school sectors (state, catholic, integrated) have a network of such buses serving Downpatrick – even where those sectors already have a school in Downpatrick and where no necessity exists to transport children in those other sectors to secondary school in distant towns. The attached links show the network of dedicated buses for;

State schools in Downpatrick area, e.g. special dedicated buses for Methody and Victoria colleges http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?hl=en&safe=active&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=100156166942575328650.00046ea7bcc67c5b879a7&ll=54.461258,-5.918884&spn=0.316497,0.890579&z=11

The Catholic schools in the Downpatrick area, e.g. special dedicated buses to Assumption Grammar school. http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?hl=en&safe=active&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=100156166942575328650.00046ea70bd5c43aa07da&z=10

Integrated Schools in the Downpatrick area, e.g. special dedicated buses for Lagan College http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?hl=en&safe=active&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=100156166942575328650.00046e825ab15e9497659&ll=54.551359,-5.780182&spn=0.3158,0.890579&z=11

The average distances to IM secondary school in Belfast from towns in Antrim and Down are made greater because outside of Belfast those communities most likely to take up secondary IM education are in North Antrim or South Down for historical reasons. This means that children as young as 11 must travel two hours each way per day (20 hours per week) if they wish to continue to receive their education in their Native Language as required of the UK under EU law.

Not one of the 2020 dedicated buses supporting secondary schools provided by the Department via Translink and the Education Boards serves the Irish Medium Secondary sector – despite this sector having the most pressing need of transport to distant schools.

It is noteworthy that were NI a county in England and Wales, most of the 2020 buses serving secondary schools would not exist, as in E&W pupils are expected to attend their nearest school in category. Yet the DOE refuses to allow Irish speaking children equivalent transport provision to attend their ONLY school in category.

While we have focused on Downpatrick in our campaign, exactly the same situation is found in the Mourne mountains area, the districts around Sliabh Crúibe, South and East Armagh, North Antrim, Tyrone and other areas around NI.

If the same percentage of the dedicated bus fleet to be available to the Irish Medium secondary sector based on (at least) the percentage of children attending secondary education though the medium of Irish, Coláiste Feirste would have a comparable fleet of country buses and city buses to that which services Lagan College or the other Belfast colleges servicing the Down/Antrim regional area.

See here for briefing document on language rights in Northern Ireland according to the Human Rights Commission

Cllr Cadogan Enright celebrates £4 Million rates victory

Cllr Cadogan Enright celebrates rates victory by Cadogan Enright

Councillor Cadogan Enright’s 3 year campaign of opposition to what he has described as “excessive cash reserves” in Down District Council at the expense of the ratepayer appears to have been vindicated.
Cllr Enright, a qualified Chartered Accountant, was the only councilor to vote against the adoption of Down Districts Annual Accounts last year. At the time he claimed that the council had over-provided in its cash reserves by at least 3 to 4 million pounds.
Cadogan Enright said “following my defeat last March by a margin of 22 to 1 on this issue last year, I referred the matter to the external auditor, the audit committee and managed with the help of 2 other councilors to have the internal auditor spend time investigating this matter.”
“The council’s turnover was estimated to be £18 million this year, but cash reserves had been allowed to accumulate to well over £10 million. Ignoring specific reserves, our closing current cash balance last year was standing at £4.9 million, compared to Newry and Mourne at £0.6, Ards and Castlerea both at £1.3 and Armagh at £0.1 million. Were we to merge with Newry and Mourne as planned, this would be the equivalent of giving each person living in Newry and Mourne a present of £29 – a £2.5 million ‘hello present”. Said Cadogan.
“In addition to this, I disputed the entire provision of £3.7 million of additional reserves earmarked to decommission Drumnakelly dump. I believe we are only legally and environmentally required to provide for decommissioning for a maximum of 30 years after its closure, not the 60 proposed by management. We are also allowed to recognize the future value of income from renewable energy and, in particular electricity generated from methane at the dump. Newry and Mourne have done this and as a result only have a fraction of our reserves for the same purpose”.
“Having attended audit and strategic resource committee meetings over the last 18 months I am now certain that all technical questions about this matter have now been resolved. The bigger parties are now faced with estimates of 20 to 30% of rates increases over the next 4 years, and have been forced to come round to my point of view to be able to achieve an acceptable rates figure. We have at least £4 million is reserves available to use before the merger with Newry and Mourne.” Concluded Cllr Enright.
Cllr Cadogan Enright also thanked fellow councilors John Doris and Eamon Mac Con Midhe for their support in pursuing this matter, saying “Cllr Mac Con Midhe has proved to be an excellent Audit Committee Chairperson, not afraid to take on the experts and I am grateful for his support”.

FLOOD MAP LECALE

FLOODING PROJECTIONS LECALE

Flood Map Lecale

You can see the projected flooding to the Lecale area as well as all of Northern Ireland by clicking on the above link and then  selecting the level of sea level rise on the top left.

LAUNCH OF GREEN BUILD WEBSITE

 

Cllr Cadogan Enright’s Down District Council was the lead council in the web-site launched by Mr. John Gormley T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Minister Gormley was attending at the invitation of the East Border Region Partnership of Councils from North and South of the Border.

Minister John Gormley officially launched the SustainAndBuild.com website at an event in the Ballymascanlon Hotel in Dundalk co. Louth. Sustainandbuild.com is a portal web facility offering open access to planning, building and environmental knowledge within the East Border Region of Ireland. It facilitates trade and investment and highlights prime development opportunities. Through the actions of participating enterprises, councils and experts, it explains in plain terms the legislation and policies applicable to development in both jurisdictions in the region.

Referring to the site as a model for joined-up government and cross border cooperation the Minister commented : “The way it has managed to link together the information and spokespersons from Planning, Building Control, Water treatment, Heritage, Health and Safety and Roads functions from both jurisdictions into a veritable one stop shop is an enviable achievement”

The website is easy to use with video, audio and interactive content all being deployed to communicate information with maximum impact. It has learning modules for schools, with interactive functionality to gauge the real level of understanding achieved.

The site also features up-to-date information on sustainability in design and construction, best practice approaches, renewable technologies and energy saving solutions. Recommending the site to anyone involved in or contemplating a construction project in this region, or further afield. Minister said:- “The new sustainability and energy efficiency agenda is where it’s at for the industry and the more we get to grips with this agenda now, the better prepared we will be for the much-anticipated upturn in economic activity when it comes and come it will”.

Photograph shows Westminister Candidate Cllr Cadogan Enright and Cllr. Mark Deary from Dundalk at official launch of SustainAndBuild.com website by the Minister.

ENRIGHT HIGHLIGHTS ANNALONG RIVER SCANDAL

 

Photograph shows Cllr Enright standing with a local resident and members of Friends of the Earth beside the Annalong/Moneydaragh River.

Local Residents and Fishermen have contacted the Green Party about the lack of action by the Inland Waterways & Fisheries department of DCAL in protecting the Annalong/Moneydaragh River. This river is one of the rivers in South Down that the Green Party wants to restore to its former glory as a salmon river, with all the economic, social and tourist benefits that that will entail for the local economy.

Below is a map drawn by a local resident showing in GREEN where the picture above was taken and setting the river in its context as a valuable habitat.

image of salmon beds
Click on the map to see a larger size.

Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan led the Green Party campaign for almost a decade to get drift net fishing abolished in the Republic. We succeeded in 2006 in banning drift-netting off the East and South coasts.

Greens comment on Salmon Stocks – Click here
Green Party welcomes end to drift netting of Salmon – Click here

This means that salmon will once again be able to reach more rivers in Co Down.

However I was shocked and appalled at finding a salmon river being converted to a roadway for agricultural machinery with the gravel and banks being dug out for that purpose. In my years as a Green Party Councillor and Environmental Activist, I have tackled many environmental problems, but this tops the lot for me in bare-faced effrontery and confidence that the authorities in NI will take no action unless forced to do so. Here are recent pictures of agricultural machinery of all types using this river as a roadway, rather than choosing to use local roads like all other agricultural or other traffic.

DSCF0825 DSCF0820 DSCF0821
Click on these images to see photos of the river being used to move heavy machinery.

It is a scandal that the Inland Waterways & Fisheries has not pursued this matter. In my conversations with a representative of DCAL I was informed that this river was a small matter in the overall scheme of things and there was an attempt to dismiss the matter as a “neighbourly dispute”. It was only when I pointed out that the removal of banks and gravel from a salmon  river was strictly against the law was there and agreement to go out and inspect this stretch of river again.

Local residents have written to me saying how they witnessed the removal of the gravel and they have described how the fisheries agency took no action when complained to.

salmon bed dug up
Click here to see the salmon river bed which was dug up and piled in this field.

I have written to the Chief Fisheries Officer of DCAL to protest this attitude and ask for an investigation into the lackadaisical approach to complaints from local landowners who own the riverbed and who do not want to be held responsible for this damage and have thus recorded it photographically to protect themselves. Click here to see the letter which Cllr Cadogan Enright sent to the Chief Fisheries Officer at DCAL.

eamon 007 eamon 006 eamon 010
Click on these images to see photographs of were the salmon river was dug up.

In addition there is dumping at or in the river, allegedly from the same source, and I have brought this matter to the attention of the local council and the Norhern Ireland Environmental Agency with a view to seeking prosecutions in this matter. The investigation number here is 7140.

656 658 656
Click on the images to see dumping and debris in the river.

Local fishermen have combined to draw the river on two maps below to show where the spawning beds used to be, and local people, supported by the Green Party want to see this river restored to its former glory. Click here for map 1, Click here for map 2.

The Rivers Agency claim they have no issue here, as the river is still flowing freely and pass the problem back the Inland Waterways & Fisheries at DCAL. Click here to see copy of this correspondence.

FURTHER EVIDENCE OF NEGLIGENCE BY CHIEF FISHERIES OFFICER

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD LETTER FROM VISION IMPAIRED FISHERIES OFFICER

In reply to this letter Cllr Enright has written back ccing the Permanent Secretary Rosalie Flanagan at the head of the department pointing out that;

1. We have supplied them with photographs of the large amount of gravel removed from the salmon beds and have witnesses prepared to testify to this.

2. That the banks of the river have been dug out for greater than one hundred meters to facilitate the use of the river a roadway for slurry tankers, combine harvesters, tractors and large numbers of cattle. The use of the bed of the river as a roadway has compacted the remaining gravel beds. I have also supplied you with photographs with date stamps of same and have witnesses who will attest.

3. The digging out of the banks also entailed the removal of the public right of way along the banks of the river, and I have contacted the council on this matter with a view to them taking action to restore the right of way along the river.

4. The traditional ford can still be used to cross without damage to the river. This would not add any length to the journey, but would entail using the public road to access the ford, rather than driving down the river to the ford. There has been no change in land ownership that prevent the use of the traditional ford. I have witnesses willing to attest that your staff are familiar with this point and that that the traditional ford has been used by the parties concerned up until last year.

5. THe local Fisheries Officer Mr Lynch has attempted to label the entire stretch of river as a ford to justify his lack of action, rather than the actual ford crossings marked on the maps and as were as traditionally used.

As of the end of July 2010 we are awaiting an investigation by the Permanent Secretary. If she does not rectify this matter we will be going to the Civil Service Ombudsman.

The phtotographs below, taken in 1994 and 2003, show the Moneydarragh River in its previous condition, with trees and bushes along the bank, pools along the river course and gravel beds.

SUMMER 2010 UPDATE ON THIS SCANDAL

Local people restore river to former glory

Local People restore river to former glory1
Local people got together to restore the banks and walkway along the river, the fish pools and weirs and attempted to reinstate the gravel beds that had been dug out, harrowed and flattened.
Local people restore river to former glory2

Tests by Fisheries Agency personnel recorded a 500% increase in fish in the river.

The river recommences use as a roadway

recommence1

recommence3

recommence2

recommence4recommence6

recommence5

There is a vivid contrast in the state of the river once agricultural traffic restarts along its length:

No Fish1no fish2

Is there an alternative route?

Yes, with a long record of using the traditional ford as access with a photographic record stretching back to 1963.

The picture to the left is an aerial survey from the Ordnance Survey showing the ford in use in 2004.

The photograph to the right was taken in 2010 and likewise shows the traditional ford still in use.

Spreading of slurry on land immediately adjacent to the river

Photo below shows slurry being spread on a field immediately adjacent to the river at a gradient of greater than 20 degrees to the river and ignoring the 10 metre gap requirement. This information has also been sent to the Permanent Secretary. A fisheries officer was present while this was going on, and brings into question the ability of fisheries officers to properly police this river.

NOTE digger working on bed of river

The photo above also shows a digger being used to remove gravel from the river. A very substantial amount of gravel has been removed from the river on a number of occasions dating from 2001 by the polluter of the river and the photograph of the large piles of gravel is a substantial proportion of this gravel. I have letters from local people and landowners who witnessed the removal and who unsuccessfully complained to the fisheries agency.

Additionally the banks of the river have been dug out for greater than one hundred meters to facilitate the use of the river a roadway for slurry tankers, combine harvesters, tractors and large numbers of cattle. The bed of the river has been compacted to enable it to be used as a roadway.

The digging out of the banks also entailed the removal of the public right of way along the banks of the river, and I have contacted the council on this matter with a view to them taking action to restore the right of way along the river. It would now be impossible for anglers to use this stretch of river.

One area of bank concreted and other stretches of the river have also been interfered with upstream of the area in question..

I believe that it is illegal for a river with protected species of salmon, sea trout and eels as well as brown salmon to have its gravel dug out, banks (including right of way) dug out, weirs and pools harrowed and flattened.

river photos sunday 8th august 2011 another crushed eel

river photos sunday 8th august 2011 another crushed eel

river photos sunday 8th augest 2011 crushed eel

river photos sunday 8th augest 2011 crushed eel

river photos sunday 8th augest 2011 crushed frog

river photos sunday 8th augest 2011 crushed frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One or two individuals in the Fisheries Agency seems to disagree, however it is clear that there are some in the Fisheries Agency who would prosecute if not prevented from doing so.

We have sent off copies of the above photographs to the Head of Fisheries, and to Rosalie Flanagan, Permanent Secretary at DARD, as additional information for their long awaited internal inquiry.

If prosecutions are not brought forward in light of the above evidence we intend to go to the civil service ombudsman alleging mal-administration on behalf of the Permanent Secretary.

OCTOBER 2010 UPDATE ON THIS SCANDAL

Page 5 of the DEFRA document ‘Protecting our Water, Soil and Air – A Code of Good Agricultural Practice for farmers, growers and land managers’ states that:

“Livestock manures and organic wastes including sewage sludge and green waste compost are referred to collectively in this Code as organic manures. They are a particular hazard if they get into water. The ammonia they contain can kill wildlife in the water. Also, micro-organisms breaking down organic matter take oxygen out of the water. This is known as the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), and in severe cases can kill all river life. Many essential farm materials such as fuel oil, sheep dip, pesticides and fertilisers can also cause water pollution.”

It also contains an image of cows walking in a river and labeling this as Water Pollution.

This month the Green Party received photographic evidence of such water pollution as cows were herded down the river –

– Click on the images to see larger view.

The manures from the cows will cause pollution as stated in the DEFRA document and the sheer number of cows being herded will cause much damage to biodiversity in the river.

We have photographic evidence of this also –

The DEFRA Document can be downloaded in full – Click here to Download