Ulster Scots plan ‘could reap economic boost’

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The outgoing chairman of Ballycarry Community Association has ended his 26-year term of office by calling for consideration for a local Ulster Scots interpretive centre.

Dr David Hume said the significant history of the Ballycarry area made it an ideal place in which to locate a centre which would tell the rich and varied story of Ulster Scots.

He told the group’s annual meeting that such a development would complement other local tourism initiatives, including the Gobbins project, and would add to the economic potential in the area.

Dr Hume remains on the officer team, having been elected treasurer, and is succeeded by Valerie Beattie, another long-term member of the group.

Mrs Beattie said that she was looking forward to the experience of chairing the group and to the support of members in the year ahead.

Dr Hume reflected on a busy year which included work commencing on the Orr Monument, establishment of a heritage trail, development of links with Drum in Co Monaghan, and other projects.

But he sounded alarm bells over the future of local Ulster Scots development, saying the Broadisland Gathering, in order to attract grants, was not allowed to make profit, and this meant there was no working capital.

In a circumstance where grant fund could not be obtained it would be a body blow to the festival, he said, and this issue would have to be addressed.

He also said the group had decided not to pursue east-west linkages because there was no grant assistance, and groups brought over for the Broadisland Gathering had to be entirely funded by the group, which it could no longer sustain. Despite meeting three Government ministers over the issue over the years, nothing had been achieved.

Dr Hume said that the association had a vision for an Ulster Scots interpretive centre i and called for united community support to put forward a case for a project which would bring major economic benefit.

Such a plan was too great for the association to realise on its own, but needed buy-in from the council and others, he said.

Tributes were paid to the officer team and also to those who the chairman said had been ‘bulwarks’ for the group over the years, among them former secretary and honorary member Dorothy Irvine who had, he said, been the right person at the right time to assist in the development of many projects including the Broadisland Gathering.

He also thanked Karyn Brown, the Ulster Scots admininistrative worker for the group until the end of March.

Dr Hume paid tribute to outgoing treasurer Rev Dr John Nelson, and said that few would realise the amount of work which had been involved in his role over the past four years.

Tributes were paid to the outgoing chairman by Cllr. Bobby McKee and Cllr. Gregg McKeen, both of whom reflected on how much had been achieved by the group over the years.

Cllr. McKeen conducted the election of officers, which resulted in the election of Mrs. Beattie as chairperson, with Rev. Dr. John Nelson and Lisa Haslett elected as vice chairpersons.

The outgoing chairman was elected as the treasurer of the group, with Karyn Brown elected assistant treasurer, Carla McKeaveney re-elected as secretary, Tracey Boyle elected assistant secretary and Membership Officer and Eddie Belch elected Fundraising Officer. Nigel Degnan was elected to the Gardening Committee.