INTERCONNECTOR OBJECTIONS

Checking the details of the EirGrid N/S Interconnector plan at the information meeting in Aughnamullen  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Checking the details of the EirGrid N/S Interconnector plan at the information meeting in Aughnamullen Photo: © Michael Fisher

ANGER EXPRESSED BY LANDOWNERS IN MONAGHAN OVER EIRGRID APPLICATION FOR N/S INTERCONNECTOR 

Michael Fisher Northern Standard  Thursday 25th June

Landowners in South Monaghan whose farms and property are along the route of the proposed EirGrid North/South electricity interconnector say it would ruin their livelihoods for generations to come and would cause the biggest destruction ever seen in Ireland. Many of them came to Aughnamullen social centre on Monday night to see for themselves the full extend of the EirGrid plans which were submitted earlier this month to An Bord Pleanála. The County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee had obtained a hard copy of the application and large folders were spread out over a long table with maps showing the route of the proposed overground line, including the section close to Lough Egish.

EirGrid and its northern counterpart plan to construct 401 new pylons carrying an overhead 400kV supply line across five counties including Monaghan, Cavan and Meath. 109 of the towers would be erected in Monaghan. The power line from Woodland near Batterstown in County Meath to Turleenan near Dungannon in County Tyrone and passing across the border at Lemgare near Clontibret into County Armagh would be one of the biggest infrastructure developments on the island and so it was designated a Project of Common Interest by the European Commission

There is now a ten weeks period of statutory public consultation, running until Monday August 24th.

The Secretary of the Anti-Pylon Committee Mary Marron said they had organised three meetings in Aughnamullen, Cremartin and Corduff during the week to enable landowners to see exactly how their properties would be affected. They were also able to advise them about making submissions to An Bord Pleanála and what they needed to concentrate on. The committee will be taking its own legal advice on the application, she said.

EirGrid documentation about the N/S Interconnector Photo:  © Michael Fisher

EirGrid documentation about the N/S Interconnector Photo: © Michael Fisher

The maps on the table set out how pylons would be erected in townlands such as Cornasassonagh and Corrinenty. Landowners continued to question why they were being treated as second-class citizens, because the underground option was being considered for two other major electricity supply projects. They claimed the project would devalue their land. They felt that the plans to erect pylons would turn their land into construction sites and questioned the methods EirGrid would use for accessing their property.

LOCAL POLITICIANS OPPOSE EIRGRID PLANS

Monaghan County Council has set up a sub-committee to discuss the interconnector application. It will meet in Castleblayney on July 13th and draw up a response. The Ballybay Clones Municipal District will also be making a submission objecting to EirGrid’s North/South Interconnector project.

COUNCILLOR SEAMUS COYLE

Fianna Fáil Councillor Seamus Coyle, a farmer from Latton, said the EirGrid proposals were totally unacceptable to local landowners. He claimed that the company had not gone out onto the ground and looked at the situation for individual farmers regarding access to their property for the construction work on the pylons. He said the project was contrary to the Monaghan County Council development plan 2013-19 and the sustainable development of the county. He told the Northern Standard it was important that councillors supported the concerns of local people in relation to this project. He claimed the local access roads needed for EirGrid construction work would be totally unfit for purpose in areas such as Corduff and Raferagh. He claimed that the electricity transmission company had not gone out onto the ground to inspect properties that would be affected, but had done an aerial survey instead. This was in contrast to the approach adopted by SONI in the North, where engineers had walked almost 97% of the planned route. He claimed EirGrid had not taken into account the implications for fauna and wildlife in the countryside as well as heritage spots such as ancient burial grounds.

EirGrid documentation about the N/S Interconnector Photo:  © Michael Fisher

EirGrid documentation about the N/S Interconnector Photo: © Michael Fisher

MATT CARTHY MEP

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy called on the public to engage with the consultation process and to outline their concerns. He said:

“Unfortunately, due to the Strategic Infrastructure Act enacted by the Fianna Fáil government with the support of Fine Gael, the planning process for the North/South Interconnector is, in my view, flawed. However, that should not prevent interested individuals and communities engaging with the public consultation process during which time the public may provide submissions and observations to An Bord Pléanala. The consultation closes at 5.30pm on Monday 24th August.”

Mr Carthy said Sinn Féin representatives had been working closely with all those groups and communities in Counties Monaghan, Armagh, Cavan, Tyrone and Meath who have been engaged in a campaign since 2007 against the EirGrid and NIE/SONI plans to impose 400kv overhead power lines and associated pylons on their landscapes.

“The concerns are very real; there are genuine worries for health, our environment, the landscape, the economic development of the areas concerned. The communities concerned have made their position crystal clear: the North/South Interconnector can only proceed on the basis that it is undergrounded. Sinn Féin fully supports that position and we will be preparing our own submission to An Bord Pléanala on this issue”.

“This project, despite 97% landowner opposition, is the only EirGrid project that remains unchanged since 2009 following its exclusion from the EirGrid national review. Report after report, including one published by the government appointed International expert commission have clearly proved that undergrounding of the power lines is both possible and feasible. Indeed, many argue that in the medium to long term, undergrounding is economically beneficial. I am calling on the public to take this opportunity to outline their position on this project and ensure that their voice is heard”, the MEP said.

€5000 CHARGE FOR HARD COPY OF EIRGRID APPLICATION

Matt Carthy was also critical of EirGrid for charging members of the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) €5000 for each hard copy of the planning application. The group had requested four copies of the application for their members and had also asked EirGrid to provide a hard copy to each landowner affected by the application.

Commenting on the correspondence between the NEPPC and EirGrid officials, the MEP said:

“It is completely outrageous that a full hard copy of this planning application costs €5000. I agree with the members of the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign that the astronomical costs involved in obtaining a copy of this application will put it out of the reach of many in the community affected by the proposed pylons.”

“The message from the local communities could not be clearer – they do not want overhead pylons blighting some of the most historical landscapes of this country and presenting a real danger to their communities. This is another slap in the face to the community who have had to listen to PR exercise after PR exercise from EirGrid stating their full commitment to engage with local communities on the proposed pylons.”

Mr Carthy went on: “While I acknowledge that soft copies of the application are provided on CD, many people need access to a hard copy for various reasons and it would be expected at the least that the landowners affected could receive a copy of the application. EirGrid cannot expect to be to be taken seriously on its claims of extensive public consultation while communities are effectively excluded from the planning process and I am calling on the company to make the application more readily available.”

Sean Conlan T.D.  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Sean Conlan T.D. Photo: © Michael Fisher

SEAN CONLAN T.D.

The Fine Gael T.D. Sean Conlan attended the information evening at Aughnamullen. He said the County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee deserved great credit for the effort they have put into organising the series of meetings this week to explain to the landowners affected in detail exactly what Eirgrid proposed to do on their land. He strongly encouraged anyone who wanted to find out further information in respect of the proposed route and how it affected their property and their community and who wished to obtain advice in relation to submitting a submission to An Bord Pleanála to contact the committee.

Deputy Conlan said: “The resilience and collective objection of the community as a whole to this application is paramount in trying to achieve our ultimate goal of having this project undergrounded. It is very important that the community continues to stand together to object to this new application by EirGrid to overground the North/South interconnector. By standing together as one the community stands the best chance of defeating EirGrid in their endeavours to put this project overground. It is very clear to me that the communities affected are more determined than ever that EirGrid are defeated.”

“I am available at any time to provide any advice or any assistance I can to members of the community and landowners who wish to make submissions detailing their concerns about EirGrid’s application and how it affects them, their families, their farms and their community. I want to reassure everybody in all the communities affected that I remain fully opposed to the overgrounding of this project by EirGrid. I will be making my own submission to An Bord Pleanála opposing EirGrid’s application to put the interconnector overground.”

COUNCILLOR EUGENE BANNIGAN

Fine Gael Councillor Eugene Bannigan also attended the information evenings. He told the Northern Standard: “Over the last number of weeks EirGrid have published their plans for a new application to an Bord Pleanála where they are looking to build 401 new pylons over five counties. However EirGrid have not walked the full route so they don’t know what damage they could do to wildlife and protected species in the surrounding areas.”

Councillor Bannigan went on: “The recent launch of new farming schemes shows certain requirements are needed in order to be granted acceptance to the scheme, and this means land will be let go wild for Gaming and Wild Bird cover. So if a farmer on the grid is planning to let some of their crops go wild in order to meet these certain requirements, then the Department of Agriculture must help out, and if several farmers along the grid do this then it can slow up the process with An Bord Pleanála, and on the other hand you have the Department for Energy trying to let this interconnector grid go up. It doesn’t make sense as on one hand the government is trying to help farmers and this means let land go wild, and on the other hand, the government is trying to let EirGrid go ahead. So it’s the government versus the government.”

Brendan Smith T.D.

Brendan Smith T.D.

BRENDAN SMITH TD

Fianna Fáil T.D. for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has criticised the Communications Minister Alex White for refusing to consider a motion by Monaghan County Council calling for the cessation of work on the North/South Interconnector so that the project could be undergrounded. The motion came on foot of comments made by EirGrid’s Chief Executive during a meeting of the Oireachtas Communications Committee, when he admitted that the undergrounding of the lines was technically feasible.

Deputy Smith commented, “I am extremely disappointed by Minister Alex White’s stance on this issue.  Despite submitting a range of Parliamentary Questions raising concerns about the fact that the underground option was not being considered, he failed to give any straight answers, choosing to evade the specific questions.

“The North-South interconnector is an extremely contentious issue here on the border. People have grave concerns about the fact that the Government appears to be content to press ahead with the overhead lines option, without giving due consideration to the possibility of undergrounding them.  This is despite the fact that the head of EirGrid told the Oireachtas Communications Committee that it is technically feasible to put the lines underground.

“It is extremely unfair that the Government is continuing to refuse a review of the North-South interconnector plans, especially in light of the fact that the other two Grid Link projects are being reconsidered.  People here feel as if they are being ignored by this Government, which is refusing to take their concerns on board, and is now even refusing to give credible answers to Parliamentary Questions, and has now effectively passed the buck back to Eirgrid.

“I am very disappointed with the Minister’s evasive and hands-off approach to this issue.  There has been a substantial reduction in the potential cost of the undergrounding project, yet Minister White is refusing to reconsider.  This is not good enough and the people of Cavan and Monaghan will simply not accept it. I will be continuing to put Minister White under pressure to review this project to ensure a safe and secure energy supply for people living on the border”, Deputy Smith concluded.

QUESTION: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the recent decision by EirGrid to submit a planning application for the North South Interconnector without consideration being given to the options of undergrounding this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.  

REPLY
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Alex White)
In January 2014, an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) was established to oversee the integrity of the process being undertaken by EirGrid to report on comprehensive, route-specific studies of overhead and underground options for both the Grid Link (GL) and Grid West (GW) projects. While the North South Transmission Line project (N/S) is outside the IEP’s Terms of Reference, the IEP did agree, on foot of a request by my predecessor, to provide an opinion on the compatibility of the methodologies, to be employed on the GL and GW projects with what had already been done on the N/S project up to and including 2 May 2014, being the date that the IEP decided to examine the N/S project. 
 
Having considered and discussed all of the material, the Panel issued a statement on 1 July 2014, indicating its unanimous opinion that, in all material respects, what had already been done on the N/S project is compatible with the methodologies being employed on the GW and GL projects. 
 
On 27 March 2015 EirGrid published a new independently peer reviewed draft Strategy which allows for the achievement of an optimal balance between the competing demands of publicly consulting on necessary network development, choosing the best emerging technology options for that development, and minimising new build. The draft strategy found that there remains a clear need for the North South transmission line, and that the existing proposal for a 400kV overhead line remains the most appropriate solution for the project.  

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HERITAGE CONFERENCE IN MONAGHAN

Tin Church, Laragh, Co. Monaghan  Photo: European Heritage Days

Tin Church, Laragh, Co. Monaghan Photo: European Heritage Days

Summer School Explores Historic Buildings of Monaghan and Armagh  Northern Standard Thursday 25th June

The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and Irish Georgian Society came together in an exciting new initiative to provide a cross border summer school in Monaghan and Armagh from Thursday until Saturday. Conservation without Frontiers explored and discussed built heritage in the context of both counties, showcasing the best they have to offer in terms of their history and historic buildings, such as Castle Leslie in Glaslough and the Tin Church in Laragh.

St Macartan's Cathedral, Monaghan

St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan

The first section of the summer school was opened on Thursday in Armagh by a representative of the Northern Ireland Department of Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan. It then moved to Monaghan, where Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht opened day two. The Summer School concluded on Saturday at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig near Newbliss with a celebratory picnic lunch.

In Armagh, the school undertook visits to both Cathedrals, the former Primate’s Chapel and Palace, the Mall and the Market Square. In Monaghan the participants visited Castle Leslie, Glaslough, and community-led projects such the Dawson Mausoleum, Dartrey and St Peter’s Church, Laragh. Tours and visits were guided by experts in the field including well known academics, architectural historians, architects, planners, conservation and heritage officers. A walking tour of Monaghan on Friday will be led by Kevin V. Mulligan from Carrickmacross. Speakers included Dawson Stelfox, Dr Andrew McClelland, Professor Alistair Rowan, and Bishop Emeritus Dr Joseph Duffy. The event brought together local people, enthusiasts, students and practitioners to learn from the unique buildings of both counties.

Twenty students from the the island of Ireland, Britain and Europe benefited from funded places to complement their ongoing studies and help develop their knowledge of conservation issues. They also took part in a heritage based competition proposing new ideas for  the restoration of Hope Castle, Castleblayney and an empty site on Upper English Street in Armagh. The event was supported by Monaghan County Council, Armagh City and District Council, the Heritage Council and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Minister Durkan said: ‘I am particularly supportive of this initiative as it brings together heritage expertise from both sides of the border to help develop and realise our mutual  interest in conservation and regeneration for community benefit.  Our built heritage is a catalyst for so many things that are vital to the lifeblood of our villages, towns and cities.  It is therefore important that we work together to realise its full potential. My  department  continues to work in partnership with the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and I commend both it  and the Irish Georgian Society for their vision in arranging this summer school.’

ANNALITTEN SCHOOL CELEBRATIONS

Annalitten National School near Castleblayney Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Annalitten National School near Castleblayney Photo: © Michael Fisher

BIG REUNION FOR ANNALITTEN NS         Michael Fisher   Northern Standard

It’s fifty years since the pupils of Annalitten National School outside Castleblayney in the parish of Muckno made the big move from the Old School to the New School. To mark this milestone, the past pupils organised a school reunion on Saturday 27th June. The event marked the 50th anniversary of the move in 1965 to the current premises. It took place at the school at 4pm and many former students were in attendance, as was the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D. After the reminiscing at the school, a social evening was held at the Glencarn Hotel, Castleblayney.

Stone plaque with name of school scratched out during WWII Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Stone plaque with name of school scratched out during WWII Photo: © Michael Fisher

The organising committee put together a selection of photographs of people who went to Annalitten school. Annalitten is a two-classroom co-educational Catholic primary school with a fascinating history. Elizabeth Brannigan was one of the organisers of the reunion. Five generations of her family have attended Analitten school, including herself.

Stone plaque for Annalitten NS celebrations  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Stone plaque for Annalitten NS celebrations Photo: © Michael Fisher

Past pupil John McBride has researched the story of the school and to launch the reunion shared some interesting facts about the old building:

Annalitten Car Park’s Amazing Secret

If you were to walk past Annalitten’s fine National School, chances are you would hardly give a second glance to or even notice the adjoining car park. But this spot has a secret.  It was the site of a building with a remarkable claim to fame. That building, the’ Old School’, was no ordinary school around the corner, as it was born with a roar that would be heard as far as the Westminster Parliament.

1888 was a year of beginnings, including the founding of the National Geographic Society, Celtic FC playing its first official match, and the birth of John Painter, who would live to the 21st century and become the world’s oldest man.  The Castleblayney townland of Annalitten celebrated its own ‘first’ with the opening of a National School.  You might think that this local affair would hardly cause a stir, even in ‘Blayney.  But events would prove otherwise.

Soon after Annalitten NS opened, the RIC called on three local families.  Leading Irish MP, Tim Healy, heard about the police visits.  In May 1888, in the House of Commons, he questioned the Chief Secretary Arthur Balfour about the incident. Balfour replied that some children had been moved to Annalitten from the nearby mixed religion schoool. Three Catholic families kept their children at the mixed school. It’s believed that the local church was putting pressure on these families to send their children to Annalitten. The famililes were visited by the local police in order to establish the full facts.

The full text of the discussion can be read in the Hansard Parliamentary report for May 14th 1888 p.144. In the document, the politicians are referred to as ‘Mr. T. M. Healy (Longford, N.)’ and ‘A. J. Balfour (Manchester, E.)’. Annalitten is spelt as ‘Annalitton’

Annalitten being mentioned at Westminster is a great feat, but the central characters in the discussions make it even more special. They were both political giants. Arthur Balfour would  serve as British Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905. Tim Healy would go on to become the first Governor General of the Irish Free State in 1922.

The ‘Old School’ at Annalitten was replaced by a new building, a short distance away, in 1965.  The old building went on to serve as a community centre until it was demolished in the early 21st century, its longevity surpassing John Painter’s by just a few years. There is now a car park on the site, surely making it one of the most historic parking lots in Monaghan and Ireland.
© John E. McBride 2015

PAT FINUCANE MURDER INVESTIGATION

Geraldine Finucane with investigative journalist John Ware in Belfast

Geraldine Finucane with investigative journalist John Ware in Belfast

The quest for truth continues by the Finucane family into the killing of husband and father Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, by the UDA in 1989. The High Court in Belfast has backed the refusal by the British Prime Minister David Cameron to hold a public inquiry into the killing of the well-known human rights lawyer. He was shot dead in front of his family at his North Belfast home by loyalists believed to have been acting in collusion with British security forces.

A judicial review rejected an appeal by Mr Finucane’s family for a public inquiry into the shooting, saying Mr Cameron’s 2011 decision not to hold one was lawful. Mr Cameron instead commissioned an independent investigation, whose report was published in 2012. The report by Desmond de Silva QC severely criticised members of the British intelligence services and army and the RUC for colluding in the killing and covering it up.

The solicitor’s family has long campaigned for a full independent public inquiry, but Mr Cameron insisted such an exercise would not shed any more light on the events. He instead commissioned a review of the case papers by Mr de Silva, whose report detailed shocking levels of state involvement.

It included spreading malicious propaganda that Mr Finucane was sympathetic to the IRA; one or possibly more police officers proposing him as a target to loyalists; and the mishandling of state agents inside the UDA who were involved in the murder. While Mr de Silva found no evidence of an overarching conspiracy by the authorities to target the 38-year-old lawyer, he said the actions of a number of state employees had “furthered and facilitated” the UDA shooting while there had also been efforts to thwart the subsequent criminal investigation.

As he accepted the report’s findings in the House of Commons in December 2012, Mr Cameron reiterated an apology to the Finucane family and also pledged that the government would examine the review in detail to identify potential lessons.

The judicial review focused on a commitment made by the UK government at Weston Park in 2001 during peace process negotiations with the Government. The Weston Park talks resulted in Canadian judge Peter Cory being asked to examine the grounds for public inquiry in a number of controversial Troubles deaths. The British government said such inquiries would be implemented if the judge recommended that course of action. Judge Cory subsequently did recommend public inquiries for a number of killings, including Mr Finucane’s. But while the British government ordered inquiries into the other deaths, it did not give the green light for one in the Finucane case.  PFCTALK (2) (452x639)

Speaking following the judgment, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan T.D. said: “I note this morning’s judgment in the judicial review and will be studying it closely. The Irish Government’s position remains unchanged. We continue to believe that an independent public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, in line with the political commitments made by the British and Irish governments at Weston Park in 2001, should be honoured.”

“This is a matter which the Government has consistently raised with the British Government. I raised it most recently with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers on 19 May, and the Taoiseach discussed the case with Prime Minister Cameron when they met in London last week. My thoughts at this time are with Geraldine Finucane and all the Finucane family, who have campaigned so tirelessly for more than a quarter of a century in pursuit of the full truth in the case of Pat Finucane, including the role of collusion in his murder.”

Relatives for Jutsice

Relatives for Jutsice

Mike Ritchie of Relatives for Justice gave the following assessment in a blog on the RFJ website:

“In an 86 page judgement, Judge Ben Stephens rejected Geraldine Finucane’s challenge to David Cameron’s refusal of a public inquiry into her husband’s murder. He chose to conclude that any government must be able to change policy and laid out the legal framework that must underpin such a change at the macro political level. He held that the change of view was properly considered and laid out the government’s decision-making process which, he said, was composed of rational grounds.

Mike Ritchie, Relatives for Justice  Pic. RFJ

Mike Ritchie, Relatives for Justice Pic. RFJ

While Geraldine Finucane did have a legitimate expectation that the government should fulfil its promise to have an inquiry as stated at Weston Park, there was no absolute right to be consulted before a change of view, particularly in circumstances that included a change of government after a general election.

While dismissing the application, the judgment nevertheless set out in great detail the variety of investigations and reviews of documentation that had occurred in this case. It also addressed the question as to whether there remained a requirement to hold an article 2 (right to life) compliant investigation. The judge concluded that, whatever about whether previous investigations – including prosecutions – amounted to a fulfilment of the article 2 procedural requirement, the review by Desmond De Silva had uncovered and published significant new information that had not been considered by criminal investigators and/or the public prosecution authorities. In the judgment he sets out in detail the disturbing findings of collusion that were the conclusions of the De Silva review.

Judge Stephens therefore held that there is a continuing requirement on the authorities to complete an article 2 investigation into these matters and he invited submissions from the parties on how these might be concluded.

The major problem with this lies in the fact that, after the De Silva review was published, the PSNI Chief Constable asked the now defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET) to consider the new material. With the HET out of the picture, lacking sufficient independence to carry out impartial investigations, the matter presumably falls to the Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) of the PSNI. However, this unit has been found by the Westminster Parliament’s Human Rights Committee not to be sufficiently independent to deal with legacy matters. RfJ agrees with this view.

Furthermore, correspondence from DCC Drew Harris and ACC Will Haire to the judge has also outlined budgetary constraints which have impeded the PSNI in its examination of the De Silva material. In RfJ’s experience, lack of resources has simply become the latest excuse preventing the truth of collusion emerging into the light. Nor can the LIB be trusted to carry out an independent, thorough investigation in a manner capable of leading to the “identification and prosecution of the perpetrators” as required by Article 2.

The Finucanes’ quest for the truth continues. It’s not clear that Judge Ben Stephens proposed route ahead takes us very much further forward.”

HANNA A SHOO-IN FOR SOUTH BELFAST

Councillor Claire Hanna  at the SDLP Assembly selection meeting in South Belfast  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Councillor Claire Hanna at the SDLP Assembly selection meeting in South Belfast Photo: © Michael Fisher

Councillor Claire Hanna has been selected by the SDLP to replace the party leader and Westminster MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Dr McDonnell tendered his resignation as an MLA last Sunday in order to comply with the procedure. Cllr Hanna’s selection was approved by a meeting of South Belfast SDLP members last night at the Wellington Park Hotel, where she was also selected along with Fearghal McKinney MLA to run in the 2016 Assembly election.

Councillor Hanna has served on Belfast City Council since 2011 and was re-elected to serve the Balmoral area in the election for the new district councils last year. She is the daughter of Eamon and Carmel Hanna, both of whom have given great service to the SDLP over the years: Carrmel as a Councillor and MLA in South Belfast, and Eamon as general secretary.

SDLP Councillor Claire Hanna (centre) with her parents Carmel and Eamon Hanna  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

SDLP Councillor Claire Hanna (centre) with her parents Carmel and Eamon Hanna Photo: © Michael Fisher

Claire Hanna said: “It has been a privilege to serve on Council since 2011 and I am deeply grateful to have been selected to continue representing the people of South Belfast in the Assembly. I’m committed to the challenges of defending the SDLP’s second seat in this constituency, refocusing our party and restoring public faith in local politics, which has been in decline for a number of years.”

“As I have in Council, I will be standing up for the diversity of South Belfast, for excellence in public services, a strong and sustainable local economy and for core SDLP values of partnership, reconciliation and social justice. The SDLP are now in a strong position to fight for South Belfast and Northern Ireland at Westminster, in the Assembly and at Council. Our South Belfast representatives, Alasdair as MP and Fearghal and I as MLAs, and our Councillors, Declan Boyle, John Gallen, Brian Hanvey and Kate Mullan are united in this aim.”

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP congratulates Cllr Claire Hanna and Feaghal McKinney MLA at the Assembly selection meeting in South Belfast  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP congratulates Cllr Claire Hanna and Feaghal McKinney MLA at the Assembly selection meeting in South Belfast Photo: © Michael Fisher

Dr McDonnell said: “Representing the people of South Belfast as an MLA for 17 years has been an honour and I know that Claire will serve our constituents with the same dedication and passion that she has demonstrated so often in Council. In Claire and Fearghal we have selected the two strongest choices of any party in South Belfast. I am confident that they will be successful in retaining two seats in this constituency in 2016 and continue to provide people here with effective representation and progressive politics.”

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP congratulates Cllr Claire Hanna and Feaghal McKinney MLA at the Assembly selection meeting in South Belfast  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP congratulates Cllr Claire Hanna and Feaghal McKinney MLA at the Assembly selection meeting in South Belfast Photo: © Michael Fisher

Fearghal McKinney added: “In South Belfast the SDLP’s aim is to retain two seats in the upcoming election and I am honoured that my party has selected me again to represent the people of South Belfast. It has been a privilege to serve as Health spokesperson for the party and if I am returned to the Assembly I hope to continue to spearhead the campaign to make new cancer drugs available in Northern Ireland, fight for the needs of older people and challenge the failure to implement the Transforming Your Care plan.” 

Fearghal McKinney MLA with Claire Hanna  of the SDLP at the Assembly selection meeting in South Belfast  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Fearghal McKinney MLA with Claire Hanna of the SDLP at the Assembly selection meeting in South Belfast Photo: © Michael Fisher

“We now need to focus on the economy to cement our peace and politics and deliver real prosperity. We need to make Northern Ireland work and pay its own way”, he said.

The announcement came a day after the Ulster Unionist Party released details of who will replace Tom Elliott and Danny Kinahan in the Assembly after they were both elected as MPs in the recent General Election. Neil Somerville from Clogher will replace Mr Elliott in Fermanagh/South Tyrone while Adrian Cochrane-Watson will replace Mr Kinahan in South Antrim.

WALK IN CARRICKMACROSS (4)

Holy Well, Carrickmacross   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Holy Well, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

Walk Around Carrickmacross

Northern Standard Carrickmacross News Thursday 28th June

4. HOLY WELL AND PENNY BRIDGE

Holy Well, Carrickmacross   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Holy Well, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

Leaving the Fever Hospital, the walk route proceeds from the Shercock Road and turns back towards the town towards Mullinary Street, formerly known as Penny Street as it is close to Penny Bridge. The name was formally changed by referendum in 1956. At the footpath on the right hand side (heading towards town) there was a holy well, the site of which is marked by a large stone. The inscription on the stone contains a cross with the sign ‘IHS’ (a symbol for Jesus) at the top. It proclaims that this water supply was erected by EPS (EP Shirley, the landlord) in the year of 1876. There is also a Bible quotation from John, chapter 4:

“Who drinks hereat shall thirst again

But waters are in store

So pure so deep that all who will

May drink and thirst no more”.

The well was covered in and was replaced by a pump, which now forms an attractive part of the annual Tidy Town display.

Penny Bridge, Carrickmacross   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Penny Bridge, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

Nearby a stone marks the site of what was once the Penny Bridge on one of the entrances to the town. It got its name from the one penny cost of the toll that used to be charged for those using the bridge over the river that feeds into Lough na Glack. According to Henderson’s Carrickmacross directory for 1856, boot and shoemaker Patrick Tumelty had a premises at the Penny Bridge and other members of the Tumelty clann were in the same trade at Main Street and Monaghan Street.

WALK IN CARRICKMACROSS (3)

Former Fever Hospital, Carrickmacross  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Former Fever Hospital, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

WALK AROUND CARRICKMACROSS   Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News  Thursday 18th June

3. FEVER HOSPITAL

Leaving the Toll House the guided walk proceeds through the mall of the new shopping centre and takes the road down the hill towards the Shercock Road roundabout.

Stone Plaque above front entrance at former Fever Hospital, Carrickmacross, showing construction date 1842   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Stone Plaque above front entrance at former Fever Hospital, Carrickmacross, showing construction date 1842 Photo: © Michael Fisher

The first building on the left hand side is the old fever hospital. It was designed by architect George Sudden and according to the stone plaque above the main entrance, it opened in 1842. Like many other buildings on the tour, it was constructed from local limestone. In those days medical staff had very little training and care was primitive. The nurses and doctors were called to deal with infections such as TB, pneumonia, typhoid, and smallpox.

A plaque recalls the occasion when the Inniskeen poet Patrick Kavanagh, then in his 20s, was treated there for typhoid fever and quotes from his prose work “The Green Fool”. One of the three great laughs he had in his life, he says, was caused by a joke told by the night nurse in the hospital. The hospital was in use until the 1950s. In 1962 the building was purchased by the Fane Valley Co-Operative and was used for a time as a jam factory.

Across the road from the hospital is the restored Workhouse building. Opened in 1843 it was one of 157 that were built in the era of the Great Famine. The Workhouse is not included on the walking tour but is open to visitors during the week.