Ballycarry calls for closer links to develop Ulster Scots

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THE annual general meeting of a local community group has heard a call for greater co-operation between neighbouring councils to capitalise on Ulster Scots heritage in the area.

Chairman of Ballycarry Community Association, Dr David Hume, told those present at the meeting that Ballycarry was uniquely placed in historical and geographical terms in relation to Ulster Scots heritage and culture.

He said that the potential of cultural tourism was a major one at the present time.

“We are uniquely sited in the middle of two areas which we encourage to have an interest in Ulster Scots because of the economic benefits it could create for them: Carrickfergus and Larne.

“This is a community which looks to both areas, many people gravitate to Carrickfergus and others to Larne,” he said.

“History knows no borough boundaries and we would encourage our elected representatives to consider with us the potential within the next few years for developments in this regard. The opportunities will not last forever and the window o opportunity will not be open long,”

The chairman, who is also a member of the Ministerial Advisory Group on Ulster Scots, said that it would be ‘disappointing’ if other areas benefited and the local area did not. He said he had been bemused to learn that the only council in Northern Ireland to have an Ulster Scots committee was a nationalist one in a minority Ulster Scots area.

“In the context of the future for this community our heritage is a major asset. It it is not utilised then history will judge us,” the meeting was told.

Among those present at the event were local councillors Roy Beggs, Bobby McKee, Gregg McKeen and Mark McKinty and MLA and Carrick councillor Stewart Dickson, who was standing in for Alderman John Mathews, who had been unable to attend the meeting.

The secretary of the Association, Carla McKeaveney, gave a positive report on the activities of the group over the past year, while treasurer Rev Dr John Nelson highlighted healthy finances.

However, the meeting heard that plans for a war memorial in the village had suffered a setback owing to the recession, the company which had quoted for the work now having gone into administration and a new arrangement having to be sought.

The memorial and the Orr Monument restoration are two of the major projects which the association hopes to see completed over the next year.

The election of officers for the year ahead was conducted by Cllr Gregg McKeen and saw the re-election of Dr David Hume as chairman.

There is an additional vice-chairman to support Rev Dr. John Nelson, and this will be Janice King, whose responsibilities will include hall management.

Others elected include; Carla McKeaveney (secretary) Lesley McMillan (Insurance Officer and Memberships), Karyn Brown (assistant secretary and communications), Janice King and Eddie Belch (fundraising officers), Carol Dempsey (entertainments officer), Lisa Haslett (youth officer), Carol Clarke (Gardening competition convenor), and Nigel Degnan (Orr and War Memorial Committee chairman).

Tribute was paid at the annual general meeting to the work of the association by Cllr Bobby McKee following the election, reflecting on the group’s achievements over the past 20 years.