1997

A LOCAL Councillor described a £10 Christmas bonus to pensioners as "insulting" and "derisory."

Councillor Alex Caldwell said: “To keep up with inflation the 10 bonus should now be 70 according to Age Concern.” Cllr Caldwell said that the bonus system had been introduced in 1972. “Many people ask how pensioners without company or personal pensions can survive on the increasingly shrinking pittance which the old age pension has become.

“Would it be too much to expect for people who have worked all their lives to at least have a decent Christmas bonus to look forward to?”

A CALL was made for the urgent upgrading of Larne cemetery.

Alderman Jack McKee said that a number of people had complained to him about the state of the cemetery’s paths over Christmas.

“I have raised this problem at the council and it was agreed that upgrading work would go ahead,” he said.

BALLYCARRY Community Association won an award for the best Christmas lighting display.

COUNCILLOR Robert Lindsay Mason, who died in 2005, invited members of the public to attend council meetings.

Cllr Mason said that he hoped people would attend to see how meetings work. His call came at a time when the colourful councillor had been repeatedly expelled from the chamber for discussing supposedly confidential council business in open meetings.

ULSTER Unionists would not accept the SDLP’s John Hume as a guarantor in the event of a second IRA ceasefire any more than they would accept the word of Gerry Adams, East Antrim MP Roy Beggs said.

He said: “The Ulster Unionist assessment of the previous ceasefire announcement by the IRA proved correct. It was purely and simply part of a carefully devised strategy which fooled many gullible bureaucrats and international political leaders.

“Concessions were granted to the IRA which was well rewarded for temporarily postponing its campaign of murder and destruction. IRA activists trained, targeted, intimidated and planned the murder and destruction which coincided with the end of the phoney peace and guise of ceasefire,” said Mr Beggs.

He added: “ A new IRA ceasefire to which the Irish government acted as guarantor and which the United States was prepared to underwrite and guarantee the promise of swift action against IRA/Sinn Fein in the event of a new ceasefire being broken may be a price worth paying for peace.”

ISSUES expected to dominate the headlines in East Antrim in ‘97 included local and parliamentary elections and the battle over a proposal to turn Magheramorne quarry into a ‘superdump’.

Nationally, the Times reported, opinion polls suggested that a change of government was likely later in the year. In May Tony Blair, as leader of the Labour Party, was swept to victory.

THE Department of the Environment was expected to deliver its Magheramorne ‘superdump’ verdict in the Spring, the Times reported.

It was also reported that the DoE had received the official Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) report on the dump public inquiry. “The report is now being examined and a decision is expected in the Spring,” a DoE spokesman said.

The inquiry’s commissioner, James Mossop, had submitted a report to the PAC in late 1996. The Commission had completed its deliberations but the final decision rested with the DoE.

MAYOR Sam McAllister expressed his hopes for a peaceful 1997, speaking at the first council meeting of the year.

THE Dunnes store in Larne was condemned by a local councillor for launching its New Year sales on a Sunday.

DUP representative Bobby McKee said that the Larne store had been packed with bargain hunters. “It’s bad enough that shops have been opening on Sundays in the run up to Christmas but I have great concern about the practice continuing into the New Year. The law has gone to pot.

“It appears we are moving towards a continental Sunday and I find that appalling. The seventh day of the week should be special.”

EAST Antrim MP Roy Beggs welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to meet politicians and discuss a controversial proposal to reduce the number of education and library boards from five to three.

Mr Beggs tabled a Commons motion calling on the government to re-think its plans. “If the government refuses to listen to the hard, accurate fact that no savings can reasonably be obtained, only chaos in education can be created where there has previously been stability.

“Perhaps Prime Minister John Major will have understanding and respect for the opinion of people across Northern Ireland as expressed repeatedly by their elected representatives from all political parties,” he added.